States News Roundup
Leroy J. Ducksworth was fired as superintendent of the East St. Louis public school system last month, four days after the Illinois Board of Education voted to require the district to resolve recurring budget shortfalls.
In moving to dismiss Mr. Ducksworth, the East St. Louis school board cited his failure to balance the district's budget, which is projected to exceed revenues for the second straight year.
East St. Louis, the fourth-largest district in Illinois, was among eight districts required by the state board to submit within 45 days a plan for balancing their budgets.
The action is the first being taken by the board under a 1981 law allowing the withholding of funds from districts that do not adopt sound fiscal-recovery plans.
Lee Milner, a spokesman for the state board, said a number of other districts probably would be the target of similar actions. Many Illinois districts, he said, are facing more serious long-term financial problems due to such factors as inadequate state financial support and voters' increasing reluctance to approve local school-tax measures.
Parents will be able to resell their tuition-guarantee certificates if their child chooses to enroll in another college, under Indiana University's new advance-payment tuition plan.
In other such programs, parents lose the value of their investment if the child does not attend a specific institution.
The university is selling certificates redeemable as credit-hours up to 22 years in the future. The certificates, which went on sale last month, cost the current rate of $62.90 per credit-hour, plus 6 percent for administrative costs. The minimum purchase is for 15 credit-hours, or about one semester.
The university has also established a secondary market where parents whose children choose to go to another school can sell certificates and recoup their investment.
Out-of-state residents may purchase the certificates, but they will be worth only the tuition charge for in-state residents. Out-of-state students using certificates must pay the difference between in-state and out-of-state rates.
Texas school districts must notify teachers working under continuing contracts of their salary level by Aug. 1 of each year, the state supreme court has ruled.
School districts frequently required teachers to sign continuing contracts with unspecified salary levels, according to Brad Ritter, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association.
Teachers from the Lumberton Independent School District had filed suit to bar the practice, after the school board had them sign blank contracts and later reduced their salaries because a mistake in calculating state aid left the district short of revenue.
Officials said the case would affect an estimated 100,000 teachers who work under continuing contracts offered by 200 of the state's 1,061 districts.
Oregon's state board has given its approval to a controversial "nuclear-age-education" curriculum.
The curriculum includes discussions of the arms race and methods of international communication. The legislature mandated development of the lessons in 1987, but did not require school districts to use them.
The curriculum has been criticized as "anti-defense" by the Citizens Defense Education Committee. But Richard M. LaTour, who helped to develop the project, said he believed it was impartial because "we were accused on both ends of the scale of being out of balance."
Connecticut's five technical colleges would merge with the state's two-year-college system, under a proposal before the board of governors of higher education.
The proposal, contained in a study mandated by the legislature, is aimed at reducing costs at the institutions, which have been plagued by declining enrollments and rising costs. Since 1982, the technical colleges' enrollments have dropped by 40 percent, while the cost per pupil has tripled.
Alternatively, the study suggested, the state could maintain the current structure, while basing funding on enrollment, or could create incentives for the institutions to compete with the community colleges for new programs.
In light of the state's worsening budget deficit, officials may favor a merger, according to a spokesman for the board.
New York State must provide a retarded and deaf 21-year-old an additional 18 months of instruction to make up for school time lost while his parents and school and state officials argued over his educational placement, a federal court has ruled.
Under federal law, the state's obligation to educate Clifford Burr expired last month, when he turned 21. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Mr. Burr must be educated through June 1990.
The state's guidelines for home schooling are constitutional, the Maine Supreme Court has ruled.
The court rejected the contention of two home-schooling parents that such standards were an unconstitutional infringement of their religion.
Richard Card, deputy commissioner of education, said the ruling upheld "the state's compelling interest in the education of children in the state."
But Michael Smith, vice president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the decision still left the door open to a future challenge to the guidelines.
Pennsylvania must give children a chance to prove that they are state residents eligible for a free education, a federal judge has ruled.
Chief District Judge Emeritus Joseph S. Lord 3rd ruled last month that a boy who was sent by his New York parents to a private psychiatric facility in Pennsylvania should have been allowed to show that he was a Pennsylvania resident.
"The principle that will [transcend] this particular situation is that children can establish residences outside of their parents' homes,'' said Theresa Glennon, an attorney for the Education Law Center, which filed a class action suit on behalf of the youth.
The state has appealed the decision, Ms. Glennon said.
Vol. 08, Issue 16