News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Bush Nixes Fla. Move To Cap Impact Fees

Florida school districts can continue to levy impact fees on builders of new homes as the districts see fit, following Gov. Jeb Bush's veto last week of legislation that would have effectively capped the existing fees in some districts and prohibited others from levying new fees.

Currently, such builders must pay the fees—designed to offset the cost of enrollment growth caused by housing construction—in 15 of the state's 67 districts. District leaders say they need the revenue to pay for school construction, but home builders argue that the fees unfairly penalize them in areas where most of the enrollment growth comes from families moving into existing houses. ("Future of Florida's School Impact Fees Cast Into Doubt," May 31, 2000.)

In his veto message, Mr. Bush, a Republican, said that the measure would have distributed state aid for school construction unequally. The legislation would have divided $50 million among those districts that now have impact fees—an effort to offset the lost revenue from the proposed cap on the fees—without providing similar state funds for school construction to those districts that don't have impact fees.

—Jessica L. Sandham

N.J. Consent Bill Advances

New Jersey districts would be required to get written consent from parents before surveying students on certain sensitive topics, under a bill passed last month by the state Assembly's education committee.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman E. Scott Garrett, a Republican, follows a controversy that erupted this year in the Bergen County suburb of Ridgewood. The 5,000-student Ridgewood school district angered a group of parents when it had students respond to a 156-question survey that asked them about their sexual behavior, drug use, and mental problems, among other matters. ("Parental Rights at Issue in Probe of Student Survey," Jan. 26, 2000.)

The parents alleged that the district had violated a little-known federal statute that requires districts that pay for student polls on certain topics with federal education dollars to get written parental consent first. The parents filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, and three of them also filed lawsuits against the district.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Vol. 19, Issue 39, Page 20

Published in Print: June 7, 2000, as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
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