Panel Ponders State-Local Split of Costs to Upgrade Schools

JULY 13, 2004 - Posted at 3:13 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Lawmakers began considering today whether to make school districts pay for court-ordered renovations to their buildings.

The statewide project is to top $1 billion.  A legislative committee overseeing the plan is considering whether local districts should be billed based on their ability to pay.

A decision is expected as early as next month.

The Legislature created the special committee as part of its response to a state Supreme Court decision that declared Arkansas' school funding system unconstitutionally inequitable and inadequate.

Lawmakers have approved, among other things, a $10 million facilities assessment.  Assessment teams are evaluating more than $80 million square feet of school buildings this summer.

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