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Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa has signed a compromise plan approved by the legislature to increase education spending by $57 million.

In signing the measure late last month, Governor Branstad said that while he was pleased to see the House and Senate break a partisan stalemate over the measure, he also was "a little disappointed'' that the compromise involved trimming his original proposal to increase the budget by about $60 million.

The Democrat-controlled Senate had backed Governor Branstad's proposal, but the Republican-majority House, citing a likely budget deficit, had proposed an increase of only $49 million.

The two sides narrowed the gap between their proposed budgets to $1.7 million before reaching an impasse in their politically charged negotiations. (See Education Week, Feb. 24, 1993.)

The agreement reached late last month called for several new budget cuts, including $800,000 to be trimmed from an incentive-based teacher-pay program.

A special legislative panel in Missouri has devised a tentative plan for fully funding the state's school-finance formula, with an estimated cost to state and local governments of as much as $671 million annually.

District Judge Byron L. Kinder in January declared the existing finance formula unconstitutional and gave lawmakers 90 days after the end of the current session to devise an alternative. (See Education Week, Jan. 27, 1993.)

In a marathon session late last month, the legislature's joint committee on school finance developed a plan to fully fund a new formula that would require the state to spend an additional $558 million annually in aid to the state's 538 school districts.

The plan would also require local districts to increase their revenues by as much as $113 million.

Sen. Harold L. Caskey, the chairman of the panel, cautioned, however, that the estimates could be lowered considerably as they are refined.

A Minnesota program that allows high school students to enroll in college courses at state expense is costing school districts $8 million this school year in lost state revenue, according to a new report.

The report by the House research department says 15 districts are losing $100,000 or more this year because of students enrolling in the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Program. The losses statewide, it adds, could reach $11 million next year.

The program, which allows juniors and seniors to take courses at any eligible college, university, or vocational program in the state for free, has been in place since the mid-1980's.

Districts are losing more money now, however, because a 1992 change in the program's funding formula only allows high schools to be reimbursed for the portion of time their students spend there. Under the old formula, districts lost less money because the state deducted a set tuition amount for every student enrolled in the program, explained Sue Urahn, the author of the study.

Vol. 12, Issue 24

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