State Journal: Slowing Down Double Dipping

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The president of the Kentucky Education Association said last month that the goal of fully implementing the state's education-reform program by 1996 is unrealistic.

Marnel Moorman told The Associated Press that teachers are discouraged because they have been working overtime to implement reforms and have received "almost no raise over the last two years.''

"We're not saying 'back up' or 'stand still,''' he said. "We're saying 'slow down.'''

Idaho state officials want to prevent school districts from counting students in "alternative'' high schools more than once for state-aid purposes, a practice they deride as "double dipping.''

But the alternative schools--which serve dropouts, pregnant girls, and other at-risk students--fought back with a lobbying effort, and the state board of education last month decided to appoint a study committee rather than adopt restrictions proposed by the state education department.

"I don't think anyone ever intended that alternative programs become money machines for districts,'' August Hein, the deputy state superintendent of public instruction, told the state board.

Some of the 22 districts with alternative programs count students as attending both alternative and regular schools, Mr. Hein said. He also sought to prevent double reimbursement for students enrolled in two alternative programs, and to limit the number of students and classroom hours eligible for state payments.

He said he suspected districts were inflating alternative-school enrollments when he noticed that state spending on such students had jumped from $2.5 million in 1989 to $6.7 million this year.

"We are not getting double funding for the same students,'' said Joyce Houston, the principal of Magic Valley Alternative High School, which state officials estimated would take the hardest hit under the proposed policy, to the tune of $51,000 per year.

But Ms. Houston acknowledged that some of her students are enrolled in both day and night programs--drawing double reimbursement. She said the school would also be affected by the proposed limits on reimbursement for time spent in non-academic courses because it emphasizes building parenting skills by having students with children spend time in the school's day-care center.

Vol. 13, Issue 14

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