Consolidation initiative in doubt

(April 7, 2004) — (Fort Smith-AP) -- Governor Huckabee says there probably won't be time to put an initiated act on education on the November ballot unless the Arkansas Supreme Court rules by mid-May on legislative efforts to improve public schools. Huckabee says it would be hard to get enough signatures in time. He has previously suggested taking his school consolidation plan directly to voters. Until the court rules and provides guidance, Huckabee says, any legislative action regarding education is in a holding pattern. Two special masters on Friday submitted to the court a report on the Legislature's attempt to comply with an order to reform the state's school system. After two months of reviewing Arkansas' response to a Supreme Court finding that the state operates an unconstitutional system, masters Bradley Jesson and David Newbern had no specific recommendations for the court regarding key issues such as consolidation, teacher pay or school buildings.