Deadline Drawing Near for Lawmakers

December 28, 2003 - Posted at 12:57 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The special session on education is to gear up again tomorrow with a court-imposed deadline of Thursday bearing down on legislators.

There seems to be little prospect of a last-minute breakthrough on education reforms although legislative leaders appear to be warming to a temporary school funding formula to replace the existing one ruled unconstitutional by the state's highest court.

The state Supreme Court declared Arkansas' method of distributing school aide unfair and inadequate last year and gave the state until Thursday to implement remedies that provide equal educational opportunities statewide.

Deep divisions between consolidation supporters and opponents, and their methods of providing hundreds of millions of new dollars in school aide to surviving districts, made prospects for reaching a concensus this week unlikely.

But leaders on both sides were more enthusiastic about a proposed stop-gap formula that would carry school districts through the second semester of the current school year.

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