Indiana Lawmakers Approve Bipartisan Education Package

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The Indiana legislature last week passed a $36.2-million education package that, state officials say, signals a spirit of cooperation between the Democratic Governor and Republican school superintendent and reinvigorates school-reform efforts in the state.

The proposal, approved shortly before the close of the session March 15, includes $9.5 million for a variety of pilot programs and research efforts proposed jointly by Gov. Evan Bayh and Superintendent of Public Instruction H. Dean Evans.

In addition, the measure would provide $19 million for a 1.3 percent increase in basic school aid, which lawmakers last year had already increased by 6 percent at the start of the biennium.

Republicans opted to support the basic school-aid increase rather than press for a $26-million proposal, backed by Mr. Evans, to add two days for parent-teacher conferences to the state-mandated minimum 180-day school year. (See Education Week, Feb. 14, 1990.)

The bill also would add $6.4 million to increase the salaries of teachers in Project Primetime, which offers smaller classes in the early grades.

As part of the Evans-Bayh package, the bill would offer $3 million for classroom technology and $1 million for pilot preschool, latchkey, and parent-education programs, in addition to the $2 million approved at the start of the biennium. It also would require districts to offer a plan providing for the implementation of child-care pro8grams for school-age children.

The measure would also provide $850,000 for experiments in site-based management of schools.

The bill includes $800,000 for research in such areas as achievement-test improvement and $1 million each for "workplace literacy" programs and drug education.

Cash Awards Funded

Rather than dividing $10 million approved by the legislature last year for two separate grant programs, House-Senate conferees backed a proposal to channel the entire amount to a program, favored by Mr. Evans, that provides cash awards to schools for improved performance.

Mr. Bayh had proposed "challenge-incentive grants" to generate innovative ideas by districts.

Despite minor changes, however, the substance of the original Evans-Bayh proposal "came through relatively unscathed," said Ed Adams, chief budget analyst for the education department. "In a short session and in a time when there are some austerity programs at the state level," he added, "it's really a superb victory for education in Indiana."

The pact shows "real leadership on the part of the Governor and real cooperation between the Governor and the superintendent," added Nancy Cobb, Mr. Bayh's assistant for elementary and secondary education. It is an auspicious start, she added, for a 10-year education-improvement plan being developed by Mr. Bayh.--dc

Vol. 09, Issue 26

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