Huckabee Says He Won't Veto Consolidation Bill

January 27, 2004 - Posted at 10:55 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Huckabee announced today he will allow a school administrative consolidation bill to become law without his signature.

The bill will consolidate the administrations of small Arkansas school districts.  But, Huckabee says the bill does not go far enough in solving problems in Arkansas' public schools.

The governor says the state Supreme Court can evaluate whether the Legislature's plan is acceptable if the state should do more to improve its public schools.

Huckabee had backed a plan that would merge districts with fewer than 500 students, saying any smaller number would allow some districts to operate inefficiently.  He says his first inclination was to veto the bill.  Huckabee says he, and most Arkansans, want more strident reforms.

Arkansas is under a court order to improve how it operates its 450,000 student school system.  Huckabee also had proposed closing high schools in small districts as a way to save money.

The governor said Arkansas residents should compare his plan with the one he'll allow to become law.

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