Senate Passes Huckabee School Reform Plan

December 19, 2003 - Posted at 3:23 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Senate today passed a school reform plan backed by Governor Huckabee on a 21-14 vote.  The plan calls for the consolidation of schools with fewer than 500 students.

The bill will be sent to the House, where it will face a much tougher challenge.  Many rural legislators are opposed to any school reform plan that would mandate consolidation "by the numbers."

As the bill stands now, the smaller districts would have to merge to create a district with at least 700 students.  Huckabee has agreed to a plan to reduce the new district size to 500 students.

That change in the bill will be made in the House.

The state is under a state Supreme Court order to improve a public education system that serves 450,000 students.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)