State News Roundup
The Indiana Commission on General Education has revised the requirements for participation in the state's new "Project Prime Time"--a program designed to reduce student-teacher ratios in grades K-3--to allow more districts to take part.
The voluntary program, which was funded by the legislature at $19 million for the 1984-85 school year, is to be initiated in all 1st-grade classes this fall and to be extended to kindergarten and grades 2 and 3 over the next four years.
Commissioners revised the project's guidelines to allow districts to participate in the program without committing to the full four-year plan, according to Jeff Zaring, a legislative aide with the Indiana Department of Public Instruction.
"Our whole idea was to create requirements that had a maximum amount of flexibility," Mr. Zaring said. "School districts only have to participate to the extent to which they feel they can."
Under the revised guidelines, there is no time limit for districts' implementation of the program.
The program provides districts with $18,000 for each additional classroom teacher hired at each grade level to reduce average class size to 18. Under the new guidelines, districts with space problems can hire classroom aides--who would be paid $6,000--as long as an effort is made to reduce class size to 18 by 1989, Mr. Zaring said.
The guidelines, which were adopted at a May 2 meeting, will be the subject of statewide hearings in the next few weeks. On July 18, the proposal will be voted on by the Indiana Board of Education, after which the measure is subject to approval by the state attorney general and Gov. Robert D. Orr, Mr. Zaring said. The Governor has endorsed the plan.
The New Jersey Board of Education has voted to require all school boards in the state with students in "middle grades or above" to ensure that students participating in athletics or other extracurricular activities perform adequately in the classroom.
Specifically, local boards of education must set standards at least as rigorous as those of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which requires athletes in the 10th grade or higher to have earned 25 percent of the credits required by the state for graduation during the preceding year.
The state board said school systems should also consider student attendance and failure rates and grade-point averages when devising their standards, which must be completed by next January and in effect by the following September.
The board also asked State Commissioner Saul Cooperman to study the effects of the new rules and report his findings by January 1986.
The Florida House committee on higher education last week struck down a portion of a bill that would have provided funding to public libraries that offered adult-literacy instruction in conjunction with local school districts.
The $4.1-million Florida adult-literacy act was part of a larger vocational-education bill that was approved.
It was aimed at reducing the functional-illiteracy rate of Florida adults from its current level of 30-40 percent to 2 percent by 1995, according to Dixie Sansom, the bill's sponsor. The measure was voted down 12 to 2.
The bill was interpreted by many committee members as "draining the swamp, not killing the alligators," in the words of Representative T.K. Wetherell, or "spreading the money real thin and not producing any real results," Ms. Hatch said.
Although the House bill was defeated, its Senate counterpart has received support and the measure is expected to be part of a conference item before the legislature ends its session in early June.