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A rough ride

Joseph A. Spagnolo, the Illinois state schools superintendent, has become the target of some lawmakers after expenses detailed in a confidential audit became public.

Some legislators are going so far as to urge Gov. Jim Edgar to find a way to oust Mr. Spagnolo from his $128,290-a-year job.

An internal audit for the state school board detailed expenses on travel and consultants that have raised eyebrows.

The costs include more than $77,000 the state education department spent this year on four consultants in England and another $11,250 for a consultant in Canada. The department hired the consultants to work on a new school-accreditation process.

The audit also noted $300 Mr. Spagnolo spent for a 40-mile limousine ride in New York City--an expense that revived talk of a $400 cab trip he took two years ago from Chicago to Springfield.

Several Republican legislative leaders said they hope that when Gov. Edgar, a Republican, reappoints the state board later this month, he will choose candidates who will discipline or fire Mr. Spagnolo. The current board, however, appears pleased with the state superintendent's work. Even after receiving the audit, it voted 11-1 to give Mr. Spagnolo a raise and extend his contract through 1999.

Officials in the education department said Mr. Spagnolo apologized for the expensive car rides and moved to address contracting questions.

An appeal for ideas

The long-running school finance saga in Arizona continues. Gov. Fife Symington has petitioned the state supreme court with an unorthodox request: advice on what the state should do next.

"It is now the court's turn to speak again," lawyers for Mr. Symington wrote in a brief asking for special action.

The filing also asks the high court to review a recent decision by a state judge who found the legislature's $100 million construction fund an insufficient answer to the state's school finance problems.

The Republican governor contends that the legislature fixed the finance system, and if the court wants more change, it should say not just when, but also how.


Vol. 16, Issue 15

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