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Two Maryland Senate committees have overwhelmingly rejected Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposal for a statewide residential high school for mathematics and science.

The proposed school, which would cost the state an estimated $13.5 million to start up, has been one of Mr. Schaefer's top legislative priorities. He has argued that it would help draw top high-technology companies to the state.

The 13-to-0 vote in the Senate's budget and taxation committee and the 10-to-1 vote in its economic and environmental affairs committee on Feb. 24 "is definitely a setback," said Judith S. Sachwald, a spokesman for the Governor.

"The proposal has been wounded but is not dead," she said, noting that it still could be approved by the House, giving the Governor another chance in the Senate.

"You can't write it off entirely," said Chad Littleton, a legislative analyst for the Senate budget panel. "But at this point, it's a dead issue as far as the Senate is concerned."

Most committee members, Mr. Littleton said, felt that the Governor had not adequately justified the need for the school.

"The committee thought there had been no reasonable effort made to evaluate the idea," Mr. Littleton said. "It is not a vote against improving math and science education, it is a vote against putting a lot of money into one building in the state."

Mr. Schaefer, however, was angry that the two panels did not give the bill more serious consideration.

"The Governor is distressed that the proposal was disposed of by the committees at lightning speed without any discusion of its merits," Ms. Sachwald said.

The Colorado House has defeated an open-enrollment measure that would have allowed parents to send their children to the public school of their choice.

Sponsored by Representative Jeanne Faatz, a Denver Republican, the "schools of choice" bill would have permitted students to enroll in schools outside of their own districts--provided that classroom space was available for them.

Critics of the bill said it favored wealthier students, who could afford the cost of transportation to a school outside their neighborhood. They also said they feared it would have prompted high-school coaches to recruit student athletes from other schools.

A controversial measure to guarantee Wisconsin school officials access to police reports on students caught using drugs or alcohol has been approved by the state Assembly.

The aim of the bill--according to its sponsor, Representative Calvin Potter--is to help school officials find such students and refer them to drug-treatment programs.

Mr. Potter, chairman of the Assembly's education committee, said the measure would also give school officials the means to discipline student athletes for offenses that violate school athletic codes.

The bill now awaits action in the Senate.

In a new twist on college-savings plans, Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota has proposed the creation of "brainpower development bonds," proceeds from which would go largely to meet current capital construction needs at the state's higher-education institutions.

The tax-exempt, zero-coupon bonds would mature in 20 years. "Parents who invest in these bonds when their children are born will have resources for higher education when those children come of age," Governor Perpich said at a news conference last month.

Almost 80 percent of the Governor's proposed $422-million capital-improvement budget is earmarked for projects at the higher-education institutions.

In a related development, Illinois, which began marketing college-sav8ings bonds this year, has received almost three times as many orders as it had bonds to sell, according to a state official. Although proceeds from the bonds will be used in a variety of capital-improvement projects, buyers will receive financial bonuses if they redeem the bonds to finance a college education.

North Carolina and South Carolina will not be allowed to employ student bus drivers under age 18 after April 1, the U.S. Labor Department has ruled.

The department imposed the deadline after finding widespread violations of a December agreement that would have permitted the states to use student drivers with unblemished driving recordsthrough the end of the school year. Department investigators found violations in 21 of 35 districts audited in the two states.

The investigation was prompted by a fatal accident in South Carolina in which a 4-year-old was run over by a 17-year-old bus driver. The driver was found to have a history of motor-vehicle violations.

Thirty-two state governments now provide or are planning to offer some form of child-care services for their employees, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The report, based on a 50-state survey conducted last spring and summer, says 18 states either administer day-care centers or contract with private firms to provide such care in or near state offices. Several others are studying, planning, or piloting such centers.

Massachusetts, New York, and California--with 33, 31, and 10 centers respectively--have the most extensive child-care systems for their employees, according to the report.

Other forms of assistance cited by the n.c.s.l. include referral services, parent-education programs, reimbursement for day-care costs, and flexible work schedules and leave policies.

Copies of "Child Care for State Employees: A 50-State Survey" are available for $5 each from the n.c.s.l., Book Order Department, 1050 17th St., Suite 2100, Denver, Colo. 80265.

Vol. 07, Issue 24

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