Gov unveils revised reform plan

(October 10, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Governor Huckabee is giving legislators 60 days to reach a consensus on education reform. He released a revamped reform proposal yesterday, one he says will comply with a court order o improve schools, is comprehensive and at a cost of 368 (m) million dollars a year is affordable. The plan would raise teacher salaries, expand preschools and set accountability and academic standards. Huckabee says the plan could be fully funded with a one-cent sales tax increase. The governor's proposal would require all school districts to teach a 38-course core curriculum every year and would raise the starting pay for teachers to 29-thousand dollars a year. High schools with fewer than 425 students would have to demonstrate they could meet the new standards efficiently, either individually or in partnerships, by May 30th or face consolidation under the plan. Huckabee says any size school that can meet the standards can remain open. But he says legislators must realize that the state has an obligation to adequately fund any high school that remains open.