Lawmakers working on ed reform compromise

(October 24, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Legislators are quietly working on a compromise to Governor Huckabee's education plan. Meanwhile, a volunteer committee is pondering how to assess the cost of bringing more than 80 (m) million square feet of public school buildings up to a court-mandated standard. Both developments are part of a push toward an expected December eighth special session on education reform. Legislators are under a January state Supreme Court deadline to come up with a plan to improve the state's unconstitutionally bad public school system. Senator Jim Argue says he hopes to convince the governor to endorse a Senate-backed compromise -- a move that could pave the way for approval of a reform package. He says he has the votes to pass the compromise in the Senate and is getting support from the House. Yesterday, a taskforce of business and education leaders charged with studying school facilities worked on developing a plan to inspect millions of square feet of public school property in Arkansas. Under the court's mandate, the state must ensure public school students have equal access to an adequate education. The court said part of an adequate education includes having adequate facilities. Task force members say the assessment will be complicated and their recommendations expensive.