LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Governor Beebe has signed legislation that authorizes an additional $122 million for Arkansas' public schools, a move that could bring the long-running school-funding case closer to an end.
The additional $214 per-student funding, together with proposed funding to upgrade schools statewide, are considered major steps toward addressing the 2002 Arkansas Supreme Court's mandate to adequately and fairly fund the 450,000-student school system.
Late last year, the high court reappointed a pair of court masters to review the state's efforts to improve the schools after three school districts complained that the state had failed to meet the court mandate. A masters report to the court is pending.
Today, the governor signed two bills into law that combined increase state funding per student from $5,662 to $5,876 dollars for the biennium, beginning July 1.
One bill increased the per-student funding by $58.3 million over the biennium. The other bill would provide an additional $63.4 million over the same period -- but that increase is considered ``enhanced funding'' that might not be available to school districts in future years.
The governor last week signed into law the $5.1 billion public schools budget paying for the per-student funding increases.