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The Texas Senate has approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the current school-funding system's reliance on county education districts to reshuffle some local property-tax revenues.

Following the Senate action late last month, the state's ongoing school-finance debate again moved to the House, where earlier attempts to settle the issue have faced their stiffest challenges and often their undoing.

The legislature faces a June 1 court deadline for finding a new system or winning voter approval for the old one. To make the May 1 statewide ballot, officials said, a constitutional amendment must win legislative approval by the end of next week.

Top House Republicans have already voiced opposition to the Senate plan. Even supporters of the amendment acknowledge that it is not a cure to the state's school-funding disparities, but argue that it would at least take the issue out of the courts--and avoid a court-ordered cutoff of state school funds to districts after June 1. (See Education Week, Jan. 27, 1993.)

Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois has signed early-retirement legislation that could save school districts an estimated $150 million over the next two years.

Under the law, five years of age and of service will be added to calculations for pension benefits. The state has alloted $47 million to the teacher-pension program to pay for the potential rush of retirees.

Superintendent of Education Robert Leininger has urged districts to use the program to consider reorganization and measures that would increase efficiency.

In addition to public school teachers, the law also extended early-retirement incentives to university employees and state police troopers.

Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.'s plan to integrate Connecticut schools by regions would involve state expenditures of up to $85 million annually for the construction of new regional and magnet facilities, according to state officials.

The state would spend an estimated $70 million to $85 million annually to build the six magnet schools and 12 regional schools that Governor Weicker has called for constructing each year, a spokesman for the state education department said last week.

In addition, the regional school-integration proposal formally proposed by the Governor late last month would call for the state's current school-construction budget of $140 million to be redistributed in a way that encourages school districts to cooperate with each other to become more integrated. (See Education Week, Feb. 3, 1993.)

In a budget address delivered last week, Governor Weicker proposed spending $775,000 in the next fiscal year and $475,000 in the following year to fund the regional planning of integration efforts.

Vol. 12, Issue 20

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