News in Brief

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Gov. Joan Finney of Kansas has vetoed both a line item in the state's education budget that would have increased state aid to local school districts and a separate measure that would have raised state sales taxes.

Earlier, however, the Governor signed into law a school-finance bill allowing most districts to increase their budgets from 0.75 percent to as much as 2.25 percent.

Ms. Finney exercised her line-item-veto authority to delete a $55.1-million increase in state aid to schools from the education department's $979.3-million budget.

The action was prompted by her earlier veto of a measure that would have raised $138 million in state sales and income taxes.

The vetoes prompted fears among legislators that school districts would have to raise property taxes dramatically to compensate for the reduction in state aid.

The state's legislative-research department has estimated that property taxes will increase by $136 million statewide if all districts raise their budgets as much as the new law allows.

Ms. Finney called on districts, however, to exercise fiscal restraint. (See Education Week, April 17, 1991.)

Gov. David Walters of Oklahoma last week signed a bill establishing state oversight of a cash-management program used by school districts.

The measure limits the amount that a district or county may borrow through the state cash-management program to 40 percent of the local unit's annual budget. The cash-management program was created to provide a buffer against deficit spending in the months before local property-tax revenue is collected.

The new law also requires investment advisers to districts or counties or those endorsing participation in the program to be registered with the state securities agency.

In addition, the law creates penalties for a district or county official who authorizes participation in a short-term cash-management program without the approval of a state oversight commission, or who knowingly submits any false or misleading information to the commission.

The program had been the subject of a grand-jury probe in the wake of reports that many schools were earning extra income under the program by exaggerating their projected shortfalls. (See Education Week, Feb. 20, 1991.)

The Education Committee of the Oregon House has approved a bill that tightens oversight of children in home schools, but is less stringent than rules proposed last year by the state school board.

The bill would require home-schooling parents to hire a certified teacher for at least one hour per week for any child whose achievement-test scores fell below a prescribed level or who failed to equal or better his previous year's score.

The teacher supervision, to be paid for by the parents, would continue until test scores improved.

The bill is supported by home-schooling advocates, said James B. Hoge, president of the Oregon Christian Home Schools Association.

Home-schooling parents objected to rules proposed by the state board last year that would have allowed local education officials to order home-schooled students back to a public school if their test scores dropped significantly. (See Education Week, Nov. 14, 1990.)

The Ohio legislature has given final approval to a bill cracking down on the use of steroids.

The measure would place steroids in the same legal category as codeine and barbiturates and charge those who sell, manufacture, transport, or possess steroids with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the quantity involved.

The bill also calls for educational programs asking schools and public gymnasiums to post signs warning of the dangers of steroids.

The Michigan Senate has passed bills mandating intradistrict choice and providing for tests of cross-district open-enrollment.

Despite opposition from the Michigan Education Association and other education groups, the two measures were approved by wide margins this month. (See Education Week, May 8, 1991.)

Superintendent of Education Barbara Nielsen of South Carolina has unveiled a restructuring plan that would eliminate 28 supervisory positions from the state education department.

Ms. Nielsen's plan, which must still be approved by the state budget and control board, would eliminate as many as 141 of the 564 program and administrative positions now in the department.

When the plan is completed later this summer, the department's seven levels of management will be collapsed into three. (See Education Week, Feb. 20, 1991.)

Vol. 10, Issue 36

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