News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundupu

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Angry Gov. Gives Ga. Board Its Walking Papers

Gov. Zell Miller asked Georgias entire state school board to resign last week, hoping to end months of bickering between the group and state Superintendent Linda C. Schrenko.

"The only way to correct this state of affairs, I have concluded, is simply to start over," the Democratic governor wrote in a memo to board Chairman J.T. Williams.

As of last Thursday, only one member, Ed Floyd, had turned in his resignation. Mr. Williams indicated that he first wanted to talk with educators and legislators before making a decision.

Ms. Schrenko, a Republican, said in a press conference that she respects the wishes of the governor. The Georgia Association of Educators, one of the state's two teachers' organizations, also supports the move.

"We just want to get on with the business of education," said Jeff Chandler, an executive assistant to the superintendent. "It's just been a constant battle."

Just last month, the governor reprimanded the 11-member board for voting to hire a public relations firm and a separate lobbyist--positions he said they could not create because education department employees already perform the functions. The governor directed the state budget office not to fund the positions.

At a Sept. 26 meeting, members of the board, which is made up of gubernatorial appointees, debated with Ms. Schrenko over whether to reimburse $340 in travel expenses of a department employee. No vote was taken because the item was not on the agenda.

Five of the members' terms are up in January. The governor had already signaled that he was planning to change the membership of the board at that time.

"We've got a meeting in November," Mr. Chandler said, "and we don't know if we're going to have any board members."

DiMarco Decides To Leave California Cabinet

Maureen DiMarco, California's first secretary for child development and education, announced last week that she will step down from that post Nov. 1.

Ms. DiMarco, the only person to hold the 5-year-old position, has been Gov. Pete Wilson's chief education representative and a key adviser in that time. She will be replaced by Orange County Supervisor Marian Bergeson, Mr. Wilson said.

Despite the politically odd alliance with the Republican governor, Ms. DiMarco, a Democrat, has been at the forefront of his administration's efforts to lower class sizes, promote charter schools, and re-emphasize phonics in the primary grades. Her office has often served as a rhetorical counterbalance to the state education department.

And while she has been less enthusiastic than her boss about using public money to pay for private school tuition, a spokesman for Ms. DiMarco said that the issue had nothing to do with her departure.

"She's in the throes of becoming a grandmother in a few months," spokesman Dan Edwards said. "Quite literally, it was time for a change."

Ms. DiMarco, 48, is staying mum on her immediate future. Mr. Edwards said, however, that she wants to stay in California and is considering some private-sector offers tied to education.

Pa. Audit Faults Districts, State for Lost Funds

Pennsylvania school districts have failed to request millions of dollars in reimbursements for construction costs, according to a review by the state auditor.

The first-ever performance audit of the state education department found that 301 districts in 62 counties have not filed final cost reports with the state in order to get the construction aid.

"It's remarkable and almost mystifying that school districts did not take advantage of this," Steve Schell, the spokesman for Auditor General Barbara Hafer, said.

The education department, meanwhile, failed to collect $4.9 million in fines for some 972 teacher-certification violations as of last November, the audit found. Most violations involve expired certificates, though there were cases of teachers who fraudulently obtained certificates.

The department is stepping up efforts to clear an 11-year backlog in reviewing certification violations.

Vol. 16, Issue 06

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