Gov. George V. Voinovich has signed a bill that earmarks $50 million to shrink the gap between Ohio's rich and poor school districts.

The law allows for the expenditure of the $50 million in fiscal 1993, which began July 1. The legislature had set aside the money last year at the governor's request when the two-year state budget was enacted. Most of the $50 million will be distributed next month to 218 of the state's poorest school districts.

If the legislature had not agreed on how to spend the funds, the money would have been allocated among all 612 school districts in Ohio, according to Jean Droste, the governor's executive assistant for education.

About $43.3 million will be distributed in a lump sum to the designated school districts, while $5 million is earmarked for the development of technology, $1.25 million for vocational schools, and $209,000 for small district subsidies.

"There still has to be a solution for the whole school-equity funding problem," said Rick Savors, legislative specialist for the Ohio School Boards Association. "But it's a step in the right direction.

Several lawsuits challenging Ohio's school funding formula are pending, Mr. Savors said. Meanwhile, recommendations for revising the formula are expected from the Governor's Education Management Council by year's end, Ms. Droste said.

School district spending ranges from about $3,000 to $11,000 per pupil across the state, she added.

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