News In Brief

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Ohio legislators have reached an agreement with Gov. George V. Voinovich to restore about $10 million in state aid cut from 172 of the state's poorest school districts in response to a state budget deficit.

While some officials have raised questions about whether the state can reimburse only certain districts for statewide budget cuts, the Governor has agreed to a reimbursement plan that would screen districts based on their property value per student.

Each Ohio school district last month suffered a 2.5 percent cut in basic state aid as part of an effort to close a revenue shortfall of about $460 million.

Lawmakers are expected to include the school-funding-restoration provision as an amendment to a budget-correction bill due to emerge from the House.

A Colorado Senate committee has rejected a bill that would have required school boards to conduct labor negotiations in public.

The Senate Education Committee last month defeated the measure proposed by Senator Bill Owens, who argued that the state's contribution to public-school budgets warranted oversight of labor negotiations with school employees.

The measure also would have required school-board members to submit financial statements listing their employment, major debts, and property ownership.

Meanwhile, the House Education Committee on a 7-to-5 vote has killed a proposal banning corporal punishment in the schools.

Four Wyoming districts have filed suit against the state's school-funding formula.

While the four districts initiating the suit--Campbell County, Green River, Evanston, and Rock Springs--are among the state's wealthiest, they are also among the most populous.

The districts contend that the current funding formula is weighted in favor of smaller rural districts. They have proposed that the state lower the "divisor," or number of students per classroom, from 23 to 21. Dividing enrollment by a smaller number would give the four systems more classroom units, the standard used to determine how much state funding districts receive.

School representatives say they may drop the lawsuit if the legislature devises a new method of distributing state funds this year.

The state has not yet taken any action on the case, but will file a response this month, according to Attorney General Joseph B. Meyer.

Gov. Walter J. Hickel of Alaska has been stymied for now in his attempt to abolish the state Professional Teaching Practices Commission, an independent panel that investigates complaints against teachers.

Last year, the Governor tried to eliminate the commission by slashing its budget and transferring its duties to the state education department.

The commission's staff defied the Governor's actions, however, and continued to operate out of the home of its executive secretary even as state officials cut off its access to the state treasury. (See Education Week, July 31, 1991 .)

Allies of the commission have successfully rallied to its defense, at least for now. In August, the National Education Association-Alaska went to court to argue that the Governor did not have the authority to abolish the panel.

While that case was pending, the legislature returned last month and made it clear it would not vote to uphold Governor Hickel's executive order eliminating the commission.

Despite the setback, Mr. Hickel has vowed to seek legislation to accomplish what his executive order could not. "I believe the duties of this commission can be accomplished in a competent and efficient manner by the department of education," he said.

Vol. 11, Issue 20, Page 20

Published in Print: February 5, 1992, as News In Brief
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