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The Kansas House has passed legislation broadening the free-speech rights of high-school journalists.

The bill's sponsors said they introduced the measure in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year that school officals have broad authority to regulate student speech that arises as part of the school's curriculum. The decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier involved the censorship of a high-school newspaper in Missouri. (See Education Week, Jan. 20, 1988.)

The Kansas bill would bar school officials from censoring articles in student publications due to their treatment of political or controversial topics. Officials could continue, however, to censor materials that are libelous, obscene, or create a "material or substantial disruption of the normal school activity."

The Massachusetts House last week refused to restore cuts in aid to schools and communities, despite warnings that the reductions would result in massive layoffs by districts.

Acting on a proposed budget for fiscal 1990, the House last week accepted a version approved by its ways and means committee. That version called for no new taxes, and cut $120 million in aid to cities and towns and $31 million in equal-education grants to districts that Gov. Michael S. Dukakis had proposed.

At a press conference before the House vote, Commissioner of Education Harold Raynolds Jr. warned that the cuts would "send a chilling message to the schools, to teachers, and to children."

"Pink slips are in the making right now in many districts," he said.

The House did agree to add $5- million in school-construction aid, $300,000 in school-technology grants, and $600,000 in aid for gifted and talented programs. To pay for those and other increases, the House voted to permit Sunday sales of lottery tickets.

The Montana legislature has failed to meet Gov. Stanley Stephens's deadline for approving a new school-finance formula.

The Governor had asked lawmakers to develop a new funding scheme by March 9. The state supreme court has ordered the state to take such action by July 1.

Noting the court's deadline and the short time remaining in the legislative session, the Governor is urging lawmakers to "step up the pace," according to his press secretary, Victor Bjornberg.

Both lawmakers and the state school superintendent have criticized Governor Stephens's suggestion that the legislature should first develop a school-aid formula before turning to the more difficult question of how to finance it.

Mr. Bjornberg said the Governor still supports the two-step process. He added, however, that Mr. Stephens would support legislation addressing both issues.

Kentucky school administrators who hire relatives will have to list their kinsmen's names in the school board's minutes, under a new policy adopted by the state board of education.

The state board's action was prompted by charges that nepotism is in evidence in most school districts. A recent state survey found that although administrators in all but two districts have hired relatives, only 2.3 percent of school employees statewide are related to school or other public officials.

The new policy requires local boards to list in their minutes the names of all employees who are related to superintendents, principals, school-board members, or other local elected official.

Relatives covered by the policy include all immediate family, in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and first cousins.

The New Hampshire Board of Education has agreed to a House panel's request that it cut the amount it is seeking in school aid by 8 percent below the figure proposed by Gov. Judd Gregg.

In his budget message last month, Governor Gregg sought a 9 percent reduction in school funding as part of an effort to reduce the state's budget deficit without raising taxes.

But the House appropriations committee, forecasting an even steeper deficit, asked state agencies to cut their budget requests even further. In response, the board proposed reducing aid to districts for school construction, catastrophic special education, and vocational education.

Board members noted that if they had not agreed to the aid reductions, they would have been forced to eliminate 100 positions from thestate education department--nearly half of the agency.

Gov. Guy Hunt of Alabama intends to ask a study panel to explore a plan to expand parental choice in selecting schools.

After listening to Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota describe that state's choice programs at a National Governors' Association meeting last month, Mr. Hunt said this month he would ask his eight-member Education Study Commission to examine whether the concept could work in Alabama.

The Minnesota programs allow students to enroll in schools outside of their home district, and gives high-school students the right to take college-level courses at state expense.

Vol. 08, Issue 26

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