Legislative Efforts To Save Small Schools Making Progress in Special Session

December 24, 2003 - Posted at 8:34 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Legislative efforts to save small schools are advancing in the state House.

The House approved a bill to spare 30 rural districts from consolidation yesterday and a House committee endorsed a new formula to distribute state aid to all 308 existing districts.

The votes followed House approval Monday of a bill to forestall consolidation for at least two years.  So consolidation opponents are pressing ahead with roadblocks to Governor Huckabee's plans to reduce the number of school districts.

Huckabee favors consolidating districts with fewer than 500 students to make the best use of specialized teachers, streamline bureaucracy and offer a broader curriculum to all of Arkansas' nearly 450,000 public school students.  His plan has stalled in the House Education Committee.

The Legislature is under a January 1 state Supreme Court deadline to overhaul a state public school funding system that the court declared unconstitutionally inequitable and inadequate.

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