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Mississippi school districts that lease land to gas and oil companies may re-negotiate leases that are more than 25 years old, state supreme court has ruled in a decision that will mean new revenue sources for many districts.

The so-called "Section 16" parcels are state-owned trust lands set aside to raise funds for local schools. Since 1978, school districts have controlled the lands. In many cases, the lands were long ago leased for terms to businesses for small amounts of money. The state's high court traditionally has held that the section of the state constitution dealing with these lands does not specifically apply to oil and gas leases.

In fiscal year 1990, some 25 districts in the state--most of them in the southwestern portion--received $2.6 million from the leases. One received more than $460,000. Another 18 districts received nearly half a million dollars from mineral leases.

Typically, oil companies leasing the land receive seven-eighths of the oil and gas royalties, while the district receives the remaining eighth.

State officials estimate that the decision will mean at least hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars for schools statewide.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has overturned a set of rules for nonpublic
and home schools set by the state Department of Education, saying they were not promulgated properly under the state's rules of procedure.

The rules for home-schooling families included requirements for instruction during at least 180 days per year, mandatory social-science and science classes, and interaction with a certified teacher. The rules were challenged by Clonlara Inc., an organization that helps parents establish home schools, as well as by several home-school parents.

In its April 1 ruling, however, the appeals court panel said the department's rules "provide specific requirements not contained within the nonpublic school act," thus violating the administrative-procedures law. The court declared the rules invalid.

Jean Shane, the department's nonpublic school liaison, said last week that the state board of education has asked the attorney general to appeal the decision to the state supreme court.

Vol. 10, Issue 30

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