State Journal: Departing in Delaware; Costly error

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Gov. Michael N. Castle of Delaware and Superintendent of Public Instruction William B. Keene have disagreed in the past on a number of issues, but lately their incompatibility has gotten a bit more personal.

Last month, the Governor announced the resignation of Mr. Keene, effective Dec. 31.

Mr. Keene, however, will not say whether or not that claim is true.

The superintendent--one of the nation's senior state chiefs, with nearly 10 years in office--will acknowledge only that the state board has renewed his contract for one more year.

But Elizabeth Bingham, a spokesman for the Governor, says that the contract was continued on the condition that Mr. Keene agree to leave.

Ms. Bingham said last week that the superintendent had submitted a letter of resignation.

She noted that Mr. Castle has "not been entirely pleased" with Mr. Keene's performance, and that the Governor would be "looking for new leadership in education."

Ms. Bingham also said that, if Mr. Keene had not resigned, the state board--which is appointed by the Governor--would have fired him.

Mr. Keene declined comment, except to say, "Everybody has their opinions."

Eager to give further support for their widely noted experiment in school innovation, Washington State lawmakers agreed this year to provide an additional $1.5 million for the Schools for the 21st Century project.

To offset the increased funding, legislators eliminated the $1.5 million budgeted for the state's dropout-prevention program in the next school year.

The cut would not create any problem, budget writers reasoned, because the dropout efforts could be funded with federal block-grant money under the Chapter 2 program.

After the legislature had finished its work, however, state education department officals pointed out that the federal "supplement, not supplant" rule would prevent them from using federal funds for a program formerly funded by the state.

Thus, the department was forced to notify 61 school districts in the state that they would not be receiving dropout funds next year.

"The money simply couldn't be used that way," said June Peck, director of student services for the department. "It clearly was an error on [legislators'] part."

Department officials are hoping that the legislature will restore the dropout funds during a one-day special session this week. But legislative leaders have said they may not be able to fit the issue on their agenda.

--lj & hd

Vol. 09, Issue 37

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