October 8, 2003 - Posted at: 4:19 p.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A proposal being floated by Governor Huckabee includes a bottom line quite similar to one suggested in January: possible consolidation among more than 200 school districts in rural Arkansas.
Huckabee is letting some legislators see the proposal, which he has not made public.
Huckabee suggested in January that Arkansas consider the consolidation of high schools in districts with fewer than 1,500 students if districts couldn't prove they were operating efficiently. His plan B, developed after an outcry among rural residents, differs in that it is based on a high school enrollment of 425, but the effect is largely the same.
Senator Paul Miller, a leading consolidation opponent, says the new version advocates merging schools even stronger than the original.
The number of schools subject to consolidation under the new Huckabee plan would depend on how a high school is defined...grades nine-through-12 or grades 10-through-12. Huckabee says he considers a high school to include grades nine-through-12, though some Arkansas high schools include only the sophomore, junior and senior years.