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The Ohio House has passed a $50-million plan to aid poor school districts and balance inequities in the state's school-finance formula.

The bill would use a ranking of districts based on per-pupil expenses, property value, and residential income. Funds would be distributed to districts in the bottom third of the list.

Officials are addressing spending disparities in an attempt to head off a pair of lawsuits filed against the state challenging the constitutionality of the current finance formula.

Gov. George V. Voinovich also has earmarked $50 million for poor districts, but said the funds could be used elsewhere if the legislature does not act by June 30. The House also voted to delay that deadline through the end of the year to give the Senate more time to consider the legislation.

Georgia lawmakers have passed a bill that halts state financial incentives for the consolidation of small schools and creates steps for ensuring local approval of consolidation in districts that have already applied for the bonuses.

Backers of the measure argued that the existing consolidation-incentive program, passed in 1987 to help implement the state's 1985 school-reform law, encouraged the creation of larger schools despite research evidence indicating that schools with smaller enrollments produce better student achievement. (See Education Week, Nov. 20, 1991.)

Under the measure, the incentive program ceases as of July 1. School systems that have submitted a plan by that date for using the incentives would still receive them. In those districts, however, the school board would have to hold public hearings and take other steps to allow input from local citizens before state incentive money could go to the project.

The Iowa Senate has confirmed Director of Education William L. Lepley to another four-year term as state schools chief.

Senators voted 36 to 14--two more than the required two-thirds majority--to approve Gov. Terry E. Branstad's reappointment of Mr. Lepley.

A coalition of rural educators had opposed approval of the superintendent, arguing that he has pushed too hard to consolidate small school systems in thinly populated areas.

Vol. 11, Issue 31

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