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N.J. Governor Planning To Revive Takeover Bill

With a lame-duck legislature in the New Jersey statehouse through the end of the year, Gov. Thomas H. Kean hopes to "take another crack" at legislation that would allow the state to assume control over "academically bankrupt" school districts, a spokesman for the Governor said last week.

In mid-September, six weeks before all state lawmakers were to stand for re-election, the 40-member Senate narrowly voted down the controversial "school intervention" bill, which had been one of Governor Kean's top legislative priorities.

The measure had been strongly opposed by the powerful state affiliate of the National Education Association.

But with the election now out of the way, Mr. Kean, a Republican, believes he can muster the few additional votes needed in the Democratic-controlled Senate to push the legislation through, said John Samerjan, the Governor's spokesman.

"We believe the bill has more support now," he said. "It is sometimes easier for legislators to take a controversial action when the spotlight of an election isn't glaring on them."

To bring the bill back to life, one senator who voted against the measure must ask for reconsideration. "We are talking to the senators about it," Mr. Samerjan said.

He noted, however, that the Gover4nor will not push for reconsideration unless he is confident he has the votes to pass the measure. The bill has already been approved by the Republican-controlled Assembly.

The results of a poll conducted last month by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University indicate that public support for the intervention plan is slipping, however.

Thirty-nine percent of the 1,000 people surveyed said they supported the school-takeover concept, while 32 percent said they opposed the idea. In a similar poll last year, 48 percent said they favored such a plan, and 28 percent said they were opposed.

Florida Education Chief Proposes Uses for Lottery

Proceeds from the Florida lottery should be put "directly into the hands of teachers" and into such programs as preschool education and rewards for outstanding students, the state's education commissioner says.

Commissioner Betty Castor, speaking at a Nov. 13 press conference, urged lawmakers not to use the lottery as "a grab bag for pet projects'' or "an excuse to cut the education budget."

Lottery revenues represent less than 3.1 percent of the state education budget, Ms. Castor said. But if that money is spent wisely, she added, the "potential ... is great."

Last week, Ms. Castor presented her proposed budget amendments for the 1988-89 school year to the state board of education. Of the8$198.1 million in lottery proceeds, she proposed spending $67.3 million on programs for "at risk" students, including preschool education; $65.5 million on programs to reward student achievement, including college scholarships; and $65.3 million for excellence in teaching, including money for career-ladder programs and for classroom instruction.

Vermont Panel Scraps Plan To Consolidate Districts

In the face of widespread opposition, a task force in Vermont has agreed to scrap its proposal to consolidate the state's 323 school districts into 65 regional units.

The plan had the support of Gov. Madeleine M. Kunin, who appointed the 11-member panel. But in a series of public hearings around the state, the members heard "almost unanimous opposition," according to Louis Berney, a spokesman for the Governor.

"It's not a bad idea, but it's not going to fly," he said. "There is a strong impetus in Vermont for local control."

In a preliminary report issued last month, the panel had recommended broad-scale consolidation to alleviate the "confusion and competition" fostered by the current governance system. Many local residents objected, however, to a provision that would have required communities to cede to the new regional school boards the authority to levy school taxes.

The panel, which is expected to issue its final report to Governor Kunin by Dec. 1, is likely to recommend legislation to improve school governance, Mr. Berney said, but is not expected to suggest incentives for consolidation.

Illinois Lawmakers Add $19 Million in School Aid

The Illinois legislature has voted to add $19 million to the state's precollegiate-education budget for the current fiscal year.

Nearly a third of the money will go to the financially strapped Chicago Public Schools; the rest will be distributed to other districts, many of which are also facing funding shortfalls.

Although the House voted to negate Gov. James R. Thompson's veto this summer of $62 million in state school aid, the Senate failed to pass the override measure.

Subsequently, lawmakers approved a supplemental appropriations bill that included the $19 million in new aid to districts and $3.2- million for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a model residential high school in its second year of operation that would have been forced to close without the new funding. Governor Thompson plans to sign the spending measure, according James P. Bray, his assistant press secretary.

In other action before adjourning its session Nov. 7, the legislature accepted the Governor's suggestion to create a new class of state bonds for parents who wish to invest money with the state to cover the cost of their children's college education. The measure replaces a guaranteed-tuition plan he vetoed this past summer.

Vol. 07, Issue 12

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