State Asks Court to Reconsider School Ruling

December 9, 2002
Posted at: 12:00 p.m. CDT
Updated at: 4:34 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The state asked the Arkansas Supreme Court Monday to reconsider part of its landmark school funding decision that the state education director says could spur taxpayer resistance.

The high court recently ruled that the state does not distribute school funding fairly and that school funding is not adequate to provide all 450-thousand public school children equal educational opportunities. State education officials are not disputing those findings. But they want the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling that school districts can no longer count extra money set aside for paying debts as part of the statewide minimum level of local property taxes dedicated to maintaining and operating schools.

The state contends the high court misread Amendment 74 and concluded incorrectly that school districts may not count dedicated millages above those necessary to pay their debts as part of the 25-mill state minimum for maintenance and operation of schools.

State Education Director Ray Simon says more than 240 districts could be forced to attempt to raise local property taxes if the court ruling stands. Some of those increases could be significant and Simon says some school patrons might resist.

The issue is a narrow but important point in the court's recent landmark decision declaring the state's school funding formula unconstitutional. The court said the state distributes school aid unfairly and devotes an inadequate amount to provide educational opportunities for all of the state's school children.

The state did not contest the larger decision.

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