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Left out

Gov. James E. Folsom Jr.'s choice of members for a new state panel on Alabama's school-finance system has angered some in the education community and stirred up political conflict.

Absent from the Democratic Governor's appointments was Paul Hubbert, the longtime head of the Alabama Education Association and one of the state's most powerful lobbyists.

By contrast, Mr. Hubbert served on two task forces created by former Gov. Guy Hunt--even though the union leader ran against Governor Hunt in the 1990 election.

Mr. Hunt, a Republican, was ousted this year following conviction on ethics charges.

Mr. Hubbert, who plans to challenge Mr. Folsom in the Democratic primary next year, said he hoped the decision not to appoint him was not a political one.

Mr. Hubbert faulted the panel for not including any current classroom teachers.

"If one's going to reform education, it has to start in the classroom,'' he said.

The Alabama P.T.A. has also complained that there is no P.T.A. member on the task force.

But Barbara Thomas, Mr. Folsom's press secretary, said the criticisms were unfounded.

The task force is chaired by a P.T.A. member and includes an elementary school assistant principal who is a "veteran elementary school teacher'' and a member of the A.E.A., she said.

Mr. Hubbert's remarks, Ms. Thomas added, were "obviously a politically motivated complaint.''

No Buck Stopping

Despite a subordinate's efforts, the buck--or more precisely, any bucks in excess of 100,000--still doesn't stop at the desk of Commissioner of Education Betty Castor of Florida.

Cecil Golden, the deputy commissioner of education for planning, budgeting, and management, recently submitted a rule change to the state board of education that would have permitted Ms. Castor to approve contracts of more than $100,000 without the board's approval.

None of the other members of the state Cabinet needs permission to sign such contracts.

The change might eliminate delays in signing contracts, he suggested.

But the members of Florida's state board are not ordinary appointees. The panel is made up of the governor and the other Cabinet members.

Once The Miami Herald inquired about the pending rule change and questions arose about a power grab, the proposal was quashed.

"Do you really want to do this?'' Randy Lewis, Ms. Castor's spokesman, said he asked his boss, who professed no knowledge of the plan.--M.L. & K.D.

Vol. 12, Issue 38

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