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A consortium of 40 New York school districts, most on Long Island, has filed suit to have the tate's education-finance system overturned as unfair.

The suit, filed in state supreme court this month on behalf of Reform Educational Financing Inequities Today, or refit, claims New York's complex formula for distributing state aid is grossly inadequate and has resulted in unequal educational opportunities for a significant number of children across the state.

The suit calls for the refinement of a hold-harmless provision in the financing formula which, it says, currently ensures that wealthy school districts will not have their state aid cut from one year to the next despite dwindling enrollments. Robert E. Molloy, executive director of refit, said his organization does not wish to abolish the hold-harmless provision, only to see it made more equitable. A state court of appeals ruled in a similar suit filed by Long Island districts in 1982 that the state's financing system may have been inequitable, but was not illegal.

The suit by refit contends that disparities have worsened since the 1982 decision, with the poorest districts falling from $400 below the regional average then to $1,500 below the regional average this year.

The Wyoming House has passed its annual school-funding bill, which includes an infusion of money into the state funding formu4la, an increase in funding for each classroom unit, and incentive money for class-size reduction.

By a 59-to-5 vote late last month, the House voted to begin doling out money from a $45-million fund that had been standing idle since the demise several years ago of a separate classroom unit for vocational instruction. The money would be fed into the funding formula over the next five years.

The bill tries to compensate for the loss of vocational money to some districts by increasing by $4,000 the payment for each existing classroom unit--a statewide increase of about $18.5 million, according to Representative James C. Hageman, chairman of the House Education Committee. The school-finance measure also offers $2.2 million for incentive pay ments to districts that reduce class sizes.

Colorado school districts that reduce their number of teachers would be required to make pro portionate reductions in administrative staffs, under legislation L approved by the House.

The bill, passed on a 36-to-26 vote, states that reductions in administra tive positions would be made over a three-year "rolling average" period.

A similar bill passed the House last year, but died in the Senate.

Phil Fox, director of government relations for the Colorado Association of School Boards, said the measure is largely directed at the Denver school system, which has reduced its teaching force in recent years, due to declining enrollment, while continuing to increase its administrative staff.

Mr. Fox said his association opposes the bill because staffing decisions are best left up to local school boards.

Vol. 10, Issue 22

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