News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Indian School Getting Funds For Fire Upgrades

The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs will spend $800,000 to upgrade fire protection at the Santa Fe Indian School. The help comes at the urging of New Mexico's congressional delegation and after state fire inspectors found serious safety deficiencies at the school, which is owned by the state's 19 Pueblo communities and serves Native American students in grades 7 through 12.

Frustrated by an $18 million backlog in repairs on the 542-student campus, school administrators called in the inspectors last month, even though the state lacks jurisdiction on the federal land where the school is located. The problems uncovered included a sprinkler system with insufficient water, state Fire Marshal George H. Chavez said.

Administrators closed second-floor instructional and dormitory rooms and moved 170 students to a temporary campus in August, said Gilbert M. Penya, the dean of students. The BIA, which is responsible for the school's upkeep, also announced this month that it would provide $701,600 for emergency operations and maintenance at the school and the temporary campus.

--Andrew Trotter

Tax Bill Includes Language on School Construction

A new, Republican-sponsored plan to cut taxes and spend part of the federal budget surplus also would give school districts access to more school construction dollars.

The proposal, dubbed the 90-10 Taxpayer Relief Act by its sponsor, Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, passed the House Ways and Means Committee, 23-15, last week. Mr. Archer chairs the committee.

It would allow districts to keep revenues made from local bonds for up to four years rather than the two years currently allowed. That would free up about $1.3 billion a year for school construction and save on administrative and legal costs, said Andy Rotherham, a legislative specialist with the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va., which supports the bill.

But it sets up a conflict with President Clinton, who has demanded that the budget surplus be allocated to Social Security. The president has also pitched his own school construction initiative, which would be financed through tax credits.

--Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 18, Issue 3, Page 24

Published in Print: September 23, 1998, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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