News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Ridge Signs Bill on Takeover, Uniforms

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has signed legislation that opens the door to a possible state takeover of the Philadelphia school district and allows mandatory uniforms in districts statewide.

Under the new law, the state could declare the Philadelphia city schools financially distressed, which in turn would allow the state to name a "school reform commission" and chief executive officer to run the district's daily operations.

Earlier this year, David W. Hornbeck, the superintendent of the 213,000-student Philadelphia schools, predicted that the system would run out of money sometime next spring if the state did not provide an additional $85 million. The new law is seen as countering Mr. Hornbeck's threat to shut down the system if it does not get the extra aid. ("Pa. Lawmakers Pass a Takeover Bill for Phila.," April 29, 1998.)

The new law, which Mr. Ridge signed April 27, also enables districts to implement mandatory-uniform policies in all schools.

Va. Lawmakers Scrap Plan for More Hiring

The Virginia legislature late last month scrapped a budget amendment proposed by Gov. James S. Gilmore III that would have allowed schools to hire 1,400 new teachers--a key campaign pledge of the recently installed governor.

Lawmakers had already approved and the Republican governor had signed a $40 billion budget for fiscal years 1999 and 2000 that contained $29.1 million in funding for hiring 600 new teachers over the next two years. But late last month, legislators rejected Mr. Gilmore's bid for another $27.1 million to employ an additional 1,400 teachers by 2000. The lawmakers argued that state had other budget priorities.

The legislature approved another one of Gov. Gilmore's top education requests, however, by adopting a budget amendment that will provide localities with $110 million for school construction and maintenance. The measure represents Virginia's biggest state-funded construction expenditure since the 1950s, according to Mark Miner, a spokesmen for Mr. Gilmore.

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