February 24, 2004 - Posted at 2:13 p.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Two special masters have completed their two-day hearing on the Legislature's response to court-ordered education reforms. The two-member panel has set a tight schedule that includes more testimony.
Former Supreme Court justices Brad Jesson and David Newbern took under advisement complaints that the state has withheld information on its school aid distribution formula. Plaintiffs' lawyers say that information is vital to documenting how the state plans to correct deficiencies in the public schools.
The masters took no action on a contempt motion against the state, but gave lawyers for the plaintiffs extra time next month to call or depose witnesses.
The masters will take more testimony March 10. The panel has a deadline of April 3 to report to the state Supreme Court.
Jesson and Newbern were appointed by the high court to gather facts on corrective steps the state has taken since the court's 2002 order declared the public school funding system inadequate. The Supreme Court will determine whether those steps were adequate to bring the system up to constitutional standards.