Support for Huckabee Plan Waning

September 4, 2003 - 2:16 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Two groups have moved away from supporting Governor Huckabee's plan for improving Arkansas' public schools.

The state's largest teachers union has backed off its support for Huckabee's plan, and superintendents from small school districts overwhelmingly voted down a compromise to the Huckabee plan.

The superintendents turned away the compromise even though it was endorsed by other school administrators' groups and superintendents from larger districts.

The teachers union says it favors reorganizing school districts based on efficiency rather than the 1,500-student minimum district enrollment that the governor proposed.

Huckabee questioned the Arkansas Education Association's decision to not back his plan. The governor says he doesn't know how efficiency will be determined because the Arkansas Supreme Court says the state must provide adequate funding to all the public schools.

Legislators from east Arkansas are working to ensure a new funding formula for public schools will bring enough money to the poorest regions of the state.

The current formula recommended for Arkansas schools would give extra money to schools based on the number of students who qualify for free or discounted lunches.

Under the plan, the Fort Smith School District would get $1,390 per student in new funding each year and the Lee County School District would get $1,288.

State Representative Steve Bryles of Blytheville said the comparison shows the proposed funding formula is flawed. The formula was part of a report recommending $847 million a year in new education funding.

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