State News Roundup

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The Maryland Board of Education last week voted to extend the school year from 180 days to 200 days, giving state schoolchildren the longest year in the nation.

Under the plan, which must be approved by the Governor and legislature, five days would be added each year for four years beginning in 1992-93.

The extra days were the most controversial proposal in the package of school reforms proposed last spring by Joseph L. Shilling, state school superintendent, said Beth Briscoe-Campbell, a Department of Education spokesman. The board voted 6-to-3 in favor of the measure, rejecting an alternative proposal to lengthen the school day by at least an hour. The school day is currently 6 hours.

The extended school year will be one part of a "Schools for Success'' reform initiative that will be presented to Gov. William Donald Shaefer before the end of the year. If the Governor approves the package, the legislature will vote on it early next year, Ms. Briscoe-Campbell said.

Mr. Shilling estimated the state's share of the cost would be $53.3 million for the first extended year. Local districts will also face higher costs and will have to choose where in the school calendar the days will be added.

The board also adopted an alternative-certification policy that will allow college graduates who have bachelor's degrees to teach elementary or secondary school.

Under the plan, graduates with a B average or better in their major area of study can enter the program. Candidates will be required to take 90 hours of pedagogy during their first year of teaching, and will be supervised by a mentor during that year.

The South Carolina State Supreme Court has upheld a jury's award of $225,000 to a school district that sued a former asbestos manufacturer for negligence.

Edward Westbrook, a lawyer for the Kershaw County school district, said the court's ruling last month marked the first time that a state's highest court has upheld a post-trial review of an asbestos-negligence claim. The decision will serve as a legal precedent for other lawsuits, he added.

He said the court's review of the suit against U.S. Gypsum also marked the first time a state high court has upheld the submission of certain types of evidence in asbestos-negligence lawsuits. The vast majority of such cases are settled out of court, he said.

A federal jury in Tampa, Fla., has convicted the former head of student loans for one of the nation's largest student-aid lenders for his role in submitting $35 million in false default claims.

Jeffrey A. Flatten of St. Petersburg, Fla., was convicted Sept. 20 in U.S. District Court on 25 felony counts stemming from a student-loan scheme hatched by officials at Florida Federal Savings Bank. At the time, the bank was the nation's third-largest lender of Guaranteed Student Loans.

His sentencing is scheduled for November.

Vol. 10, Issue 5

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