Senators Acknowledge Deadline Won't Be Met

December 31, 2003 - Posted at 8:04 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - State senators are acknowledging that they will not meet tomorrow's court-ordered deadline to overhaul the way schools are funded.

So the Senate passed a bill yesterday making small changes in the way the state distributes money to schools in the hope it will stave off law suits.

Under the bill, the state would distribute an extra $16.5 million to school districts to help teach low-income students through June 30.  It also creates a new formula to disburse poverty-index money to all districts rather than just those with the highest percentages of poor students.

David Matthews of Lowell, lawyer for one of the winning parties in a lawsuit that successfully challenged the school funding system, says any change in the current formula that would go into effect tomorrow would be enough to keep him from petitioning the state Supreme Court.

However, the lawyer for the Lake View School District, the primary plaintiff in the case, has made no such commitment.

The Senate also passed a resolution yesterday calling for the body to recess at the end of today and reconvene on Monday, an admission that court-ordered education reforms will NOT be completed before tomorrow's deadline set by the state Supreme Court.

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