Dueling Overhaul Bills in Assembly

February 4, 2003
Posted at: 5:00 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Legislators sorted through various education reform plans inside the Capitol Tuesday as dozens of parents, children and teachers rallied outside.

The Legislature is under a court order to overhaul a public education system that the state Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional. Governor Huckabee and two legislators have proposed separate plans to address the court mandate though the proposals have not been offered formally.

Huckabee told the crowd of about 200 gathered for today's rally organized by the Arkansas Parent Teacher Association that widespread changes are necessary.

Huckabee's proposal would reduce the number of school districts from 310 to about 116. Districts with at least 1,500 students would remain intact. Representatives Betty Pickett and Robert White are working on alternatives to Huckabee's plan.

Pickett's bill would charge the Education Department to create districts of at least four-thousand students. White's would give districts a chance to meet higher state education standards before forcing them to consolidate.

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