State News Roundup

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N.J. Supreme Court Bars Automatic Teacher Raises

New Jersey school districts can no longer give teachers automatic salary increases after their union contracts have expired, the state supreme court has ruled.

When districts and unions fail to reach a bargaining agreement, teachers typically receive raises they would have earned under the expired agreement for another year. But paying such raises violates state law by effectively extending the terms of an expired contract, according to the ruling this month.

The decision applies to teachers--not other school employees--in systems with three-year contracts. That includes more than two-thirds of the state's districts.

A spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association said the decision would put new pressure on teachers' unions to settle contracts, and he predicted that unions would be more willing to seek one- or two-year contracts.

The New Jersey Education Association is mulling seeking legislative changes to nullify the ruling's effects, a spokeswoman said.

Higher Standards

The Georgia state university system is considering a proposal to tighten admissions standards for freshmen entering college in 2001.

The proposal, submitted this month to the board of regents by a task force of educators, would require a fourth year of math for college admission. It would also establish a "freshman index," which would combine a student's Scholastic Assessment Test scores and high school grade-point average. The proposal sets minimum freshman-index scores for research universities, regional universities, senior colleges, and two-year colleges.

The board has said it wants to create consistent standards throughout the 34-campus, 206,000-student system and promote a higher level of academic excellence. The regents are expected to vote on the proposal next month.

Vol. 15, Issue 35

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