Huckabee Hints at Consolidation Proposal

January 7, 2003
Posted at: 7:20 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Governor Mike Huckabee gave strong indications Tuesday that he will recommend to legislators a reorganization of public schools that could eliminate some districts.

The Legislature convenes Monday with education reform its top priority following a landmark state Supreme Court decision declaring the school funding system unfair and inadequate. The governor is scheduled to address a joint session of the House and Senate the next day and has said he would propose a major reorganization of state government.

In an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday, Huckabee repeatedly emphasized a key portion of the high court ruling that declared the state not only responsible for distributing school aid but also for how the money is spent and the academic results.

``This is what I don't think has sunk in to a lot of people, even people at schools," Huckabee told The AP. "This is not a minor adjustment, that's an absolute sea change from the way we've done business. Local control ceased to exist.

``Will we keep 309 districts? Let me stop short of answering that specifically and ... address that next Tuesday. But I don't think it's realistic to say that we can continue to exist with that structure as it is now. It wouldn't make sense to do it," Huckabee added.

The state currently has 310 school districts statewide. Patrons of the Stamps and Lewisville school districts voted in September to consolidate the two systems, effective July first.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.