$700,000,000 Education Price Tag

July 21, 2003  -  Posted at 10:53 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  --   Legislators and Governor Huckabee appear to still be far apart on how to approach improving Arkansas' public schools.

The state is under a January first deadline imposed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to improve education and make funding equitable among school districts.

Governor Huckabee says the best way to meet the order is to consolidate smaller districts that can't meet improved standards. Rural legislators and educators say they want school districts to remain in tact.

A round of meetings with consultants working to come up with consultants produced a batch of suggestions last week that would come with a $700 million price tag.

House Speaker Herschel Cleveland says legislators have reached a consensus that focuses on accountability and higher standards. But Cleveland says Huckabee doesn't like the plan.

Huckabee said one option would be to not call a special session and allow the court to decide the next step.

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