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Two Kentucky teachers have filed suit in state court alleging that the state's decision to adopt a self-insurance health plan represents a breach of contract.

In addition, a class action raising similar claims has been filed in federal district court on behalf of some 15,000 state workers, who are also covered under the plan.

Kentucky decided to implement the self-insurance plan, which increases teachers and state workers' out-of-pocket costs, after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kentucky decided not to renew its contract with the state.

The state has negotiated with several individual hospitals, located mainly in the urban centers of Lexington and Louisville, to lower insurance costs under the plan by reducing co-payments and deductibles.

School employees in rural areas have argued that such a change would unfairly give their counterparts in urban areas an option not available to them.

New York Freezes Hiring

As Budget Deficit Deepens

Saying the state now faces a $1.9-billion budget deficit, New York budget officials have imposed a hiring freeze on all state agencies--including the board of education.

The budget shortfall is nearly twice the amount estimated three months ago, according to a spokes4man for Dall W. Forsythe, the state budget director.

To meet state expenses for the rest of the year, Mr. Forsythe was forced to order a freeze on all hiring, buying of equipment, capital construction, and borrowing until March 1989, the spokesman said.

The freeze is expected to save an estimated $100 million. However, more draconian measures may also be necessary, the spokesman added.

Chris Carpenter, a spokesman for the state education department, said the deficit may force the state to severely decrease aid to school districts.

Many districts that have negotiated three- or four-year contracts with teachers' unions that promise salary increases may have trouble meeting those demands, Mr. Carpenter predicted.

Last week, the New York State Board of Regents moved to revise its annual budget request, which is usually presented to the governor in November, according to Mr. Carpenter. The board will meet with lawmakers Dec. 15 to develop a new request that takes the new deficit projections into account.

Maine superintendents and school-board members say the state school chief should consult with them before announcing new policy initiatives.

A resolution passed unanimously last month by the Maine School Boards Association urges Commissioner Eve M. Bither to inform school officials of any forthcoming state proposals and to give them a chance to comment on their implications at the local level.

Local officials are being placed in "a reactive position," said Paul E. Brunelle, executive director of the association. He said that because "they are the ones running the schools, superintendents and school boards should be consulted."

Ms. Bither responded that she had always tried to involve local officials in the rulemaking process. But she noted that "when a lot of changes are taking place, it is not always possible to get all the input one would want before making proposals public."

Idaho law does not prohibit teachers and school administrators from serving in the legislature, the state attorney general's office has told a former lawmaker.

The legal clarification had been sought last spring by Jerry Callen, a former state representative. He had questioned whether it would be a conflict of interest for teachers and administrators in the legislature to vote on education-spending measures.

Vol. 08, Issue 13

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