Senator Questions Whether UA-Fort Smith Made Lawful Transition

OCTOBER 9, 2006 - Posted at 11:20 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A state senator is exploring whether proper procedures were followed in converting the Westark Community College in Fort Smith into a four-year campus of the University of Arkansas system.

Senator Dave Bisbee, a Rogers Republican, has asked the state Department of Higher Education to review the steps made in converting the two-year school.

In 2005, the Legislature approved a measure allowing voters to convert a local property tax that supported the community college to a sales tax.  Bisbee says the change was barred under Amendment 52 of the state constitution.  University lawyers say the change was legal.  But Bisbee says there's a provision in the amendment that would ban a two-year college from ever becoming a four-year institution, even if a property tax that supports the institution is repealed or converted.

Bisbee says he doesn't bear ill will toward the Fort Smith school.  But he says he's afraid the switch could lead to legal action.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)