House expected to stall consolidation

(December 19, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- The state House is scheduled to vote today on an education reform bill that forestalls school consolidation for at least two years. The bill passed the House Education Committee yesterday, along with a measure upping the number of rural districts immune to consolidation to 30. The reform bill by Representative Paul Weaver would give districts two years or more to meet tougher academic and economic efficiency standards. The bill also includes a complex point scale to rank districts on their performance. Weaver says he understands concerns that the standards are too lenient, but argues they were drafted to ensure districts that have long been underfunded will have a chance to catch up.