November 21, 2002
Posted at: 10:53 p.m. CDT
BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. -- A Mississippi County teacher that is a member of the state teacher union welcomed the Arkansas Supreme Court's ruling that the state's educational funding system was unconstitutional.
Marci Raeber-McClain said that it is about time the state cleans up its act in the classroom.
"I'm really thrilled that the Supreme Court finally came down with the ruling," Raeber-McClain said. "I think it's definitely time and we've known that it was coming and I'm glad that it's finally over with."
The case, involving the Lake View School District in Phillips County, has been in the courts since 1992, arising from a 1983 ruling saying that the state's funding plan back then was unconstitutional. According to Raeber-McClain, teachers are looking at Thursday's ruling as a victory for education statewide.
"It's way past time for the state of Arkansas to realize that we need to do something for all of the kids in Arkansas, not just in the big rich towns, but also in the poor districts right here in the delta," Raeber-McClain said.
The General Assembly is tasked to solve the funding problems by January 2004. Education experts, and legislators say that there are many options before the legislature when it convenes on January 13, 2002. The include: a lottery, a raise in taxes, and even school consolidation in an attempt to cut costs.
"I think school consolidation is the way we need to go," Raeber-McClain said. "So I think the governor and the legislature are going to have to work together on this with professional educators around the state to figure out the best and the fastest way to get that accomplished.