Arkansas House Committee Rejects School Consolidation Bill

by Michael Stratford, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 12:51 pm  

By a 5 to 12 vote, the House Education Committee turned down a bill that would change the formula for calculating the number of students in a school district for the purposes of consolidation. (Photo by Shuttstock)

"You're counting students who don't bring any resources into the school district to cover what goes on in the classroom and allowing the funding level to drop below what the General Assembly has determined to be adequate," said Assistant Attorney General Scott Richardson.

Lowering the consolidation threshold without providing additional resources to a district, he said, would leave the state open to a legal challenge that it is not providing constitutionally adequate education.

Similar proposals to change the 350-student threshold for school districts, or how the state calculates it, have failed to pass in previous legislative sessions.

Ratliff says he isn't sure whether he will be filing other legislation on the issue this session.

"Right now I'm just brainstorming," he said. "I'm trying to figure out other routes to keep these rural schools from consolidating."

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