Huckabee, Seawell Willing to Talk

July 22, 2003 - Posted at: 5:36 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Both sides in the dispute over how to fix Arkansas schools say they're willing to talk, but no negotiations have been set.

House Majority Leader Harmon Seawel says that Governor Huckabee rejected a direct appeal for talks to end the political impasse over court-ordered education improvements. Seawel is author of a House alternative to Huckabee's school district restructuring plan.

Huckabee says Tuesday that nothing was rejected in his first meeting with Seawel because nothing specific was offered. A spokesman says the governor agreed to meet again with Seawel and has worked to set up another meeting.

Seawel, a Pocahontas Democrat, has invited school superintendents and educators from districts big and small to a meeting tomorrow in his hometown. Business, farm and legislative leaders also were invited to hear about his alternative proposal.

The governor and the Legislature did not reach agreement in the regular session this spring. And Huckabee has said he may not call a special session this fall without a consensus on reform.

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