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A Hard Sell

Consulting may be one of education's growth industries, but Wyoming lawmakers tell a different story.

They've been hunting for a finance expert for weeks to help devise a new school-funding plan. The job should be a plum: The state supreme court blazed a new trail last fall when it threw out the current system and ordered lawmakers to define an adequate education for each child and determine the cost.

But when lawmakers asked 30 noted school-finance experts to bid on the job, only three responded.

Rep. Rick Tempest, the Republican who is heading up the effort to find a consultant, said some of the experts balked because of the short deadline. Work was to be completed by this fall, in time for the legislature to pass a bill to meet the court's July 1, 1997, deadline.

But finance data are readily available, Mr. Tempest said, so "it's not like these guys would be starting from the beginning. But they know their business better than we do."

After beating the bushes, the state ended up with a better response. Follow-up work recently encouraged 21 more bidders to consider the Wyoming job.

The Long Race

After her 1992 election, Indiana state schools chief Suellen Reed promised to visit schools in all 92 state counties.

Her mission was accomplished last month when she met with school officials in Scott County. Campaign officials for Ms. Reed, a Republican who is seeking re-election, hailed the feat as a testament to her commitment and real accomplishment.

However, Ann McBride England, who is expected to win the Democratic nomination for state superintendent, said that with just six months left in her administration, Ms. Reed's efforts were "too little, too late."

Ms. England pledged to visit schools in all 92 counties within the first 100 days of her administration. "I want to get out right away. I don't want to wait four years," said Ms. England, an elementary school principal in Richmond. "I don't think it should take 3-1 / 2 years to make contact with districts."

Ms. Reed, meanwhile, has promised to visit schools once again if she is re-elected.

--Drew Lindsay Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 15, Issue 38

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