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The Massachusetts Senate last week passed a bill to replace the elected, 13-member Boston School Committee with a 7-member body appointed by the city's mayor.

The home-rule petition, which will also have to be approved by the House and the governor before it becomes law, was passed this spring by the Boston City Council in response to longstanding complaints about the committee's alleged ineffectiveness.

The proposal has been criticized by prominent black officeholders, who argue that it would rob minority groups of their right to elect their own school representatives. (See Education Week, May 22, 1991.)

The bill became bogged down when opponents forged an alliance with Republican lawmakers in4volved in a separate struggle over Congressional redistricting.

But after a group of minority religious leaders and a weekly newspaper serving predominantly minority neighborhoods came out in support of the measure, key Republicans voted in favor of it.

The vote on the bill was 22 to 13.

The Tennessee Senate has passed a version of Gov. Ned McWherter's comprehensive education-reform plan, but put off a decision on how to fund the bill until a three-day meeting of the legislature beginning June 18.

The Senate followed the House in passing the substance of the education bill. Senators included an amendment to allow localities to continue electing school superintendents if the election is approved by a majority of county commissioners. (See Education Week, May 29, 1991.)

Before recessing, lawmakers also worked to deal with the state's most recent revenue shortfall. The Senate passed a half-cent increase in the sales tax to avoid $300 million in cuts. The House budget plan includes no major tax increase, however.

Nevada counties would be authorized to levy a tax to pay for more security in public schools, under legislation passed last week by the Assembly.

The bill, which would permit a special election in which local voters could approve a levy of up to 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, now moves to the Senate Committee on Taxation, said Donald O. Williams, principal research analyst for the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Officials from Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, pushed for the bill, according to Mr. Williams, and are the only ones expected to put the measure to use if it becomes law.

A levy would pay for adding to existing school-security staff and equipment, such as the video surveillance and metal detectors now in use in Clark County.

Vol. 10, Issue 38

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