Arkansas Lawmaker says Funding Debate Must Focus on Accounting

JANUARY 23, 2007 - Posted at 7:41 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A legislative leader says the state faces a "politically loaded" question of how Arkansas' public schools are spending the influx of money they're getting.

Yesterday, the House and Senate education committees accepted a report on efforts to adequately fund Arkansas' 450,000-student school system.

State Senator Jim Argue, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says the next big question is not how much to fund the schools, but how current dollars are being spent.

The House and Senate education committees adopted the adequacy report, which calls for increasing per-student funding by .5 percent in fiscal year 2008 and by 1.2 percent the following year.  The increase is significantly lower than an outside consultant's recommendation.  Governor Beebe has said he wants to add another $19 million to public schools.

Outside consultants hired by the state say funding should increase 8.6 percent.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)