House Deletes Consolidation from Huckabee Bill, Legislators Now Back at Square One

JANUARY 6, 2004 - Posted at 2:54 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas House deleted consolidation from Governor Huckabee's school reform plan today.

That effectively leaves the legislature at an impasse as they try to improve Arkansas' education system.  Representative Robert White says the vote returns legislators to where they started.

The House voted 53-44 for changes in a Senate bill that called for the closure of school districts with fewer than 500 students.

House members cheered at the vote, and many in the gallery exchanged high-fives.

Rural school advocates say Huckabee does not understand the value of a small-school education and that consolidating their districts would ruin their way of life.

Arkansas is under a state Supreme Court mandate to change the way public schools are funded.  The Legislature missed a deadline to make the changes last week, and the school district that successfully sued the state over education equity has asked the court to sanction the state.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)