Huckabee/Seawel Meet, No Progress Made

July 29, 2003 - Posted at: 1:55 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Governor Huckabee and a key legislative leader met for 40 minutes Tuesday morning to discuss their visions for Arkansas' education system. They didn't appear to make much progress on the key issue of setting an enrollment threshold for consolidation.

The governor insisted that a court order to improve public schools implies that Arkansas should eliminate school districts that cannot be run efficiently. He says districts with fewer than 1,500 students should be possible targets of consolidation.

Representative Harmon Seawel of Pocahontas says legislators will not accept a consolidation plan that includes a specific enrollment figure.

Huckabee and Seawel said they were in agreement over 90 percent of proposed changes to the 450,000-student public school system, but the possible consolidation of rural school districts remains a problem.

The Arkansas Supreme Court last year ruled the state operates a public school system that is inadequate and unbalanced. It gave legislators a January 1, 2004, deadline to improve schools.

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