Panel Puts Off Rule Limiting Use of Poverty Money

JULY 1, 2004 - Posted at 3:19 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Lawmakers today put off endorsing rules that would limit the use of poverty-based school aid on teacher salaries.

The state Board of Education has already approved rules barring districts from using $132 million meant to pay for extra help for poor students to meet the new $27,500 minimum teacher salary.

Failing to meet the minimum salary could land some districts in fiscal distress, which could lead to consolidation.  House Speaker Herschel Cleveland wants to know how many districts would be in trouble if they can't use poverty money to meet the minimum salary.

State Education Director Ken James told a legislative committee today that he will provide an estimate.  But James did not commit to granting Cleveland's request to give schools a year to meet the salary standard before being put on fiscal distress.

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