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The Clinton Administration last week proposed an enterprise-zone program for urban and rural communities that calls for creating 30 "enterprise schools.''

As part of the "empowerment zone'' proposal, the White House asked federal agencies to earmark at least $3 billion under existing programs for initiatives in the zones. The Education Department's 1994 budget proposes to spend $15 million in discretionary funds under the Secretary's Fund for Innovation on an "urban-rural initiative,'' which Administration officials said last week would be spent on the "enterprise schools.''

Under the "economic empowerment act of 1993,'' communities in the zones would be eligible for funds to convert schools into 24-hour, year-round community centers.

The school initiative is to be coordinated with other federal agencies, which may contribute some funding.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has asked the Education Department to investigate whether the Bismarck, N.D., public schools improperly place large numbers of Native American students in special-education programs.

The commission issued a report on April 27 saying evidence gathered by the state's civil-rights advisory committee indicates that 27 percent of Indian students in Bismarck are in special education, more than three times the expected rate.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, the commission called for a review of the district's compliance with federal civil-rights laws and ongoing monitoring of the state's special-education program.

President Clinton will nominate Ramon Cortines, a former superintendent of schools in San Francisco, to be assistant secretary of education for intergovernmental and interagency affairs, the White House announced recently.

Mr. Cortines headed a group studying intergovernmental issues as part of the Clinton transition team. He has since served as an adviser to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley.

The House Human Resources Subcommittee has passed legislation backed by the Clinton Administration that would channel more foster-care aid into programs to help keep troubled families together.

The measure, which would cost $1.36 billion over five years, would establish a new program to provide support services to families at risk of having a child placed in foster care. It would also improve existing foster-care and adoption-assistance programs.

The measure has been folded into a larger budget-reconciliation bill that the full House Ways and Means Committee is considering this week.

A more costly and comprehensive child-welfare bill was introduced in the Senate in March.

It would cost $2.2 billion over five years and fund three new programs for family-preservation and such related services as substance-abuse treatment.

Vol. 12, Issue 33

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