Legislatures News Roundup

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A measure has been introduced in the Washington House of Representatives that would afford the state's public schools some protection from state budget cuts.

The bill, which was offered with bipartisan support, would limit cuts in state funding for basic education to half the percentage cut from the budgets of other state-government agencies. It would also prohibit state officials from seeking education cuts greater than 5 percent.

Representative Pat Fiske, one of the bill's four sponsors, said the measure was formulated because local school officials were concerned that large cuts in state aid would prevent them from fulfilling their state constitutional obligation to provide a "basic education" to children attending their schools.

Washington schools are heavily dependent for money on the state, which recently has suffered from severe revenue shortfalls. Under a court-ordered school-finance law, the state is required to pay the cost of ''basic education" for all students, with local districts supplementing the state appropriation in relatively small amounts. In many districts, some 90 percent of all revenue comes from the state.

A proposal to make kindergarten a prerequisite for first grade has been put on the back burner for this session of the Kentucky legislature, according to state officials.

Instead, a provision allowing local districts to require kindergarten if they so choose--and supplying some financial incentive--will probably be included in Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.'s budget bill. The proposed legislation would provide extra transportation funds to districts that make kindergarten mandatory.

The "bonus" may indeed prove attractive to some districts, since transportation has been the fastest-growing cost for districts in recent years, officials say.

An earlier proposal by Governor Brown would have required that, by 1983, all students complete kindergarten before starting first grade.

A bill that would allow Arizona parents to teach their children at home or to send them to private or parochial schools with practically no interference from local education officials has been resoundingly approved by the state's house education committee.

Arizona law currently exempts students from attending public schools only when it can be shown to the local school board and the county school superintendent that the children are being instructed by competent teachers in the subjects given in the common schools of the state.

The new law would remove the requirements that children be taught by "competent" teachers and that their educational program be approved by local school officials.

Representative James L. Cooper, chairman of the house education committee and sponsor of the measure, said some local school boards had been "reading things into the law that were not there."

"For example, they thought that the word 'competent' could be read to mean 'certified,"' Mr. Cooper explained. "They also thought that they had the right to approve the curricula of private schools. That's not what we, as legislators, had in mind."

Vol. 01, Issue 20

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