School Fix Cost Down from $900M - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

State School Crisis

School Fix Cost Down from $900M

August 18, 2003 - Posted at: 4:17 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- State legislators now say it will cost $825 million per year to give Arkansas public school students an adequate education.

That number is down from an estimated cost of $900 million discussed by legislators earlier in the day.

The previous figure was $709 million. But the estimate was adjusted upward to account for contributions to teacher retirement and what some school districts provide above the mandatory 25 mills set by the state.

The state can't ask districts with higher millages to subsidize other districts. Thus, the $146 million raised by districts with higher millages can't be used toward statewide education improvements.

If the state is to raise the $900 million, it would have to come from a broad-based tax, like a sales or income tax.

Earlier Monday, the members of the legislative committee discussed whether or not Arkansas should cover the cost of preschool for poor children.

The special committee is meeting to determine the per-student cost of providing Arkansas public school children an adequate education.

Legislators are under a state Supreme Court mandate to overhaul an unconstitutional funding system.

California-based experts hired to help the committee estimated the cost of providing preschool for all students at $158 million.

Some legislators say that because pre-kindergarten education isn't constitutionally mandated, the expense isn't necessary.

Others say helping children catch up when they are young will save money in the long run.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

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