States News Roundup
Alabama's 39,700 public-school teachers, as well as the state's "education support personnel," will receive a 15-percent across-the-board raise beginning on Oct. 1 as part of the state's recently passed $1.46-billion education budget.
The increase compares favorably with those passed for teachers in recent years. In 1980-81, the legislature provided a 16-percent raise, but for several years prior to that, the average raise was about 12 percent, and teachers received no increase in 1979-1980, according to the Alabama Education Association.
The appropriation was a compromise between Gov. Forrest H. (Fob) James, who had proposed a 14-percent raise, and the members of the legislature, who had passed a 16-percent raise for teachers.
Through an executive amendment, however, the amount of the raise was changed to 15 percent.
Michigan's 570 school districts will receive no state aid in June because of the state's cash-flow problems, Gerald Miller, the state budget director, said last week.
A delay in June subsidies to public schools could cause payless paydays in financially troubled districts--including Detroit, the state's largest--and could force other districts to borrow at high interest rates to avoid bankruptcy.
About 35 percent of the public-school appropriations in Michigan come from the state government. A taxpayer rebellion and previous cuts in state and federal aid have placed about a dozen school districts on the brink of bankruptcy.
Mr. Miller said the $184-million state-aid payment for June could be made only if the legislature adopts Gov. William Milliken's proposed 22-percent increase in the state income tax. The proposed tax hike, which has been passed by the House but twice rejected by the Senate, is bogged down in a House-Senate conference committee.
Arthur Jefferson, Detroit's superintendent of schools, said that if the district does not receive its $46-million state payment next month, it faces "the real chance that we won't be able to meet our payroll."
Mr. Jefferson said that the 207,000-student district cannot borrow such a substantial amount of money on short notice. "The whole mechanism of our borrowing is based on anticipated state aid. Michigan's financial situation is making the lending institutions very, very cautious."
State officials advanced Detroit $20 million last month when delayed subsidy payments threatened a similar fiscal crunch.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that Proposition 2, the statewide property-tax rollback, has ended a century-old tradition of fiscal autonomy for local school boards.
In two separate but similar decisions, the court upheld the powers of mayors over school spending.
In one case, it ruled that Boston's Mayor Kevin White had not only the authority, but an obligation, to prohibit that city's school committee from overspending its 1980-81 budget. The school committee's overspending prevented the schools from shutting down before the completion of the 180 class days required by state law, but precipitated a fiscal crisis and necessitated a city appropriation of an extra $16 million to keep the schools operating.
The schools' original budget was ample to provide 180 days of schooling, the court ruled, but should have been closely monitored by city officials.
The city previously had the power to limit school spending to the previous year's appropriation but had no authority over the committee to prevent it from exhausting that appropriation before the 180 days were completed.
The city has been attempting to procure legislation that would enable municipal officials to control the school committee's spending on a month-to-month basis. Some city officials now interpret the court's recent decision as meaning that the mayor may take such action without legislative approval.
In a separate decision, the court upheld the mayor of Leominster's authority to reduce the local school committee's annual budget.
Vol. 01, Issue 33