Education reform redux

(January 13, 2004) — (Little Rock-AP) -- After completing five weeks a special session on education reform, legislators began Week Six with a setback. Divisions widened yesterday in negotiations on an agreement on a new state formula to distribute aid to public schools. School district consolidation, which has clouded legislative efforts since the regular session convened a year ago, appeared to be dead after the House last week gutted Huckabee's plan to consolidate districts with fewer than 500 students. The issue could be resurrected in some form as a condition for some legislators to vote for a tax increase. But disagreements over teacher pay raises, class sizes and other issues slowed negotiations on a proposed new public school funding formula. At the end of the day efforts to meet a state Supreme Court order were left in limbo.