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Charter School Law Passes in Connecticut

Connecticut lawmakers have overwhelmingly endorsed a measure that would allow up to 24 charter schools in the state beginning with the 1997-98 school year.

Gov. John Rowland, a Republican, was expected to sign the legislation, which House members passed 130-16 on May 8, the last day of their legislative session. State senators had passed the proposal on a 28-7 vote a week earlier.

Up to 12 of the charter schools could be created by converting existing public schools. These charter schools would be financed through their school districts' budgets.

Other charter schools, as many as 12, would be entirely new schools formed with the approval of the state school board. These "state charter schools" would receive approximately $6,000 per pupil from the state's K-12 education budget.

Districts that lost students to charter schools would also lose a proportionate amount of their per-pupil state aid.

Priority would be given to applications for charter schools in the state's urban areas. Charters would be granted for up to five years.

"The bill represents an expanded opportunity for parents and teachers to take more control of their kids' education, and more importantly it is another model for reaching out to at-risk children," said Democratic Rep. Cameron C. Staples, the House chairman of the legislature's joint education committee.

Move for N.Y.C. Overhaul

The generation-old school-governance structure in New York City would be dismantled under a bill passed by the state Assembly last week that is given little chance of adoption by the Senate.

The bill would abolish the city's 32 elected community school boards. Critics charge that the boards, which were created in the late 1960s to decentralize decisionmaking, have been plagued by corruption and patronage.

Under the proposed legislation, new school-based councils of parents, teachers, and administrators would make some of the budget, curriculum, and personnel decisions now handled by the community boards. Also, the city's schools chancellor would be invested with new oversight authority.

Leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate have signaled that the bill has little chance in that chamber.

But two Senate bills are pending that would take different approaches to overhauling school governance from that in the bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Assembly. One idea proposed in the Senate would give more control of the schools to New York's mayor.

Vol. 15, Issue 35

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