Supreme Court Revisits School Funding - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR--Tiffany Blankenship Reports

Supreme Court Revisits School Funding

June 9, 2005--Posted at 7:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-- The Arkansas Supreme Court announced today they would review the school funding issue which has sparked much debate throughout the state.

The high court will address alleged flaws in funding.

The Supreme Court cites serious complaints by 47 school districts over alleged flaws in next year's state budget, but the Valley View district, which some speculated were part of that complaint, says the funding issue is almost too difficult to debate.

"There's a tendency for someone to say they fell short in this area or that. I don't know if I can tell you if they fell short or not," Valley View Superintendent Radius Baker says.

But senator Jerry Bookout says the Supreme Courts' decision to revisit the case is only fair.

"It's ok for the courts to take a look. I do believe this, however, I think in Arkansas, my experience has been that the courts and the legislature have been way more involved than they should be," Senator Jerry Bookout says.

He says the court will reintroduce the masters, they're operatives that go into schools and take a look, obtain all the records so the court can reevaluate the determination of state legislators to make school funding top priority.

"I think they're pretty well going to be satisfied when they take a look that the legislature has done everything that they can possibly do. Everything that reasonable and prudent people would do, I honestly believe the legislature has done," Bookout says.

He says the legislatures focus is evident through nearly $700 million in new money spent to upgrade Arkansas school facilities, standards, curriculum and teacher pay in just under two years.

"For us as legislators and the people as a whole to realize, we've just got a difficult situation to manage so we're going to manage it. We don't go around ringing our hand saying we'll never solve it. We just get to work, work on it, fix it," Bookout says.

"One of the things that is going to help the kids of Arkansas is to make sure that everyone has the best education that they can and I think that this might prove to be the best thing that can happen with that," Baker says.

Justices voted four-to-three to revisit the long-running school funding debate which many thought was solved a year ago.

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