State News Roundup

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Gov. William Donald Schaefer of Maryland last week proposed to slice $23.4 million out of the state education budget as part of deep cuts throughout the state government aimed at closing a $450 million budget gap.

Non-mandated aid to education would be cut by 25 percent, or $13.9 million, putting a dent in such programs as magnet schools, dropout and suicide prevention, child-abuse control, environmental education, teenage-pregnancy counseling, and gifted-and-talented courses.

Deep reductions would also hit libraries, adult education, and school-breakfast programs. Prison education would be totally eliminated.

Even so, Beth Briscoe-Campbell, a spokesman for the state education department, said her agency fared relatively well in the overall cuts, which included 1,700 state-employee layoffs; the shutting down of police barracks, juvenile-delinquent centers, and at least four state parks; and the loss of general public assistance for more than 24,000 poor and disabled residents.

The Governor's proposals, which do not require legislative approval, are expected to be passed by the three-member Board of Public Works, which Mr. Schaefer heads. Only a quick tax increase could head them off, but state lawmakers have refused so far to approve one.

Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia has unveiled a package of education reforms designed to help students who do not plan to attend college.

The recommendations, developed by a school-reform committee appointed by the Governor, call for requiring all lOth-grade students to undergo a series of statewide performance evaluations.

After completing the evaluations, students would either take college-preparatory courses or enter vocational programs. Business leaders would help develop the assessments and new reform programs.

Under the nine-point plan, state employees also would be given paid leave days in which to do volunteer work in schools or to attend parentteacher conferences.

Michigan's pioneering prepaid college-tuition program will not issue contracts this fall, because the board that governs the Michigan Education Trust has not decided if it will continue the program, modify it, or scrap it.

Michigan was the first state to develop a system for prepaying tuition at state colleges and universities, and the program has served as a model for ones in other states. But Gov. John Engler and State Treasurer Douglas Roberts, who chairs the 54.E .T. board, have been critical of the plan.

Mr. Roberts said the beard will probably vote by the end of the year on what it wants to do with the program. It will not issue contracts this fall, as it has done for the past three years, he said, because of concerns over the solvency of the program.

The Omaha school district is challenging the Nebraska Board of Education's reversal of the district's decision to block transfers by 17 students under the statewide choice program.

The state board said last month that the district's refusal to allow 17 non-black students to transfer to other school districts violated the state's 1989 choice law because it effectively denied non-black children the right to take advantage of the choice program.

Omaha officials said their policy allows transfers only if they maintain or improve a school's racial balance. They argued that their stance is consistent with provisions in the law that permit transfers to be blocked if they interfere with courtordered or district-initiated desegregation plans.

Vol. 11, Issue 06, Page 2

Published in Print: October 9, 1991, as State News Roundup
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