State News Roundup

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A Colorado state court has opened the door for the second major challenge to the state's school-finance system in less than a decade.

District Judge Jeff Bayless ruled on Oct. 2 that a group of 17 parents and eight other taxpayers may proceed with a suit seeking major reforms to equalize spending among the state's 176 school districts.

Lawyers for the state board of education, arguing that the constitutionality of the existing finance method was upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court in a landmark 1982 decision, had asked Judge Bayless to dismiss the suit.

In the earlier case, the high court ruled that the state was not obligated to eliminate the wide differences in spending between wealthy and poor districts.

Judge Bayless, however, said several6key issues had not been addressed in the decision. He agreed to hear arguments that existing funding patterns do not guarantee each student a "thorough" education, as required by the state constitution.

Thirteen county school superintendents in Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit in the state's supreme court challenging new legislation that eliminates a salary supplement they had been receiving to bring their pay up to a minimum-base level.

As a result of the legislative action this past summer, supplements were taken away from superintendents with fewer than three school districts within their jurisdictions.

In the suit, the 13 superintendents affected by the change argue that under the state's constitution the salaries of elected officials cannot be altered during their terms of office.

"Until their term of office ends, these superintendents are entitled to what they were getting when they were elected," said Ronald Worthen, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. The state's attorney general is arguing that the supplements are gifts and not a matter of right, Mr. Worthen said.

H. Dean Evans, Indiana's superintendent of public instruction, says state officials are laying the groundwork for a plan to place computers in the homes of all 4th graders.

The plan's objective, according to Joseph DiLaura, an education-department spokesman, will be to preserve and advance the academic gains achieved through "Project Primetime," a state program limiting class sizes in grades K-3. Project Primetime's ratio of 20 or fewer pupils per instructor cannot be maintained in the higher grades due to cost, he said.

Support for the new computer-loan program is being sought from private foundations and computer firms. Officials say they hope to launch the program on a pilot basis in some districts next fall.

Vol. 07, Issue 07

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