Craighead County Legislators Preparing for Special Session

March 26, 2006 -- 7:45 PM CST


JONESBORO, AR -- Governor Huckabee is pushing for a special session on April 3, but incoming Senator Paul Bookout said that date may be too soon.  

“If that indeed is the case and that there is gonna be a special session on April 3, District 14 Senate seat that my father had here in Craighead County will be vacant until special election on April 11,” said Bookout.

He’s requested that the date be pushed back.   

“That's a real concern of mine for the good people here in Craighead C ounty, that they won't be represented in the State Senate if the special session is before the special election,” he said.   

Governor H uckabee wants school funding issues to be addressed as soon as possible, but not everyone agrees.

“I think some senators feel as though April 3 might be a bit of a rush on some of these issues because we're dealing with a great deal of money,” said Bookout.   

Currently, schools get $5400 per student, but there's an adequacy study, Picus/Odden, that will determine if that amount is fair.    The study won’t be available until September.  

“There were some senators that I was listening to voice their concern about the fact that maybe we should wait until the study comes in, and lets see if that $5400 is an amount that we should be basing all of our numbers on,” said Bookout.

Regardless of the study, Representative Ray Kidd said smaller school districts are being left out.

“This funding still leaves little desire on the small schools that suffer decline in enrollment,” said Kidd.    

Governor Huckabee is expected to propose other issues as well at special session, but education will be the main focus.

“If you bring too many issues in, all you're going to do is extend the special session,” said Bookout.

The Education Committee is proposing an extra $139 million of additional funding, and special session will give legislatures a chance to discuss the specifics.  

Governor Huckabee will decide Thursday if special session will meet.