State Ed Board Approves Tougher Course Requirements

February 10, 2003
Posted at: 3:55 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- At the urging of state Education Director Ray Simon, the state Board of Education today tentatively approved tougher course requirements for all Arkansas' school districts.

The board agreed to put the issue up for public comment before taking another vote -- which could come in April. Simon told the panel that the only way to ensure the state's 450,000 public school children receive a quality education is by requiring schools to offer a rich and challenging curriculum.

In November, the state Supreme Court declared Arkansas' school funding system unconstitutional and gave legislators until January first, 2004, to overhaul the system in a way that provides adequate and equal opportunities for all public school students.

Governor Huckabee proposes reducing the number of school districts from 310 to about 116. His plan would require school districts with fewer than 1,500 students to consolidate with a surrounding school district.

One of the portions of Huckabee's plan also calls for the closing of a high school in a consolidated district is the school does not meet state minimums in accreditation, facilities, and curriculum.