Some 131 Arkansas school districts have banded together in a lawsuit challenging the state's use of school-aid monies to fund court-ordered desegregation plans in Pulaski and Conway counties.
The district officials are not opposing the desegregation efforts themselves, but rather the state's practice of funding them with money that otherwise would have been available to all districts, said Ed McKinney, superintendent of the Magnolia school district, which filed the lawsuit in state court.
While Arkansas currently spends millions to transport students in the two counties, a recent federal appellate ruling that holds the state partly responsible for funding remedial and compensatory programs in Little Rock is likely to boost its financial obligations dramatically under desegregation. (See Education Week, Feb. 28, 1988.)
Gov. Bill Clinton has repeatedly warned that the desegregation rulings will reduce the amount of money available for other school districts in the state.
"Somewhere along the way, somebody in the state of Arkansas decided that all of the schools were going to put money into the pot for this,'' said Mr. McKinney. "It was obvious that our share was going to continue to get larger if somebody didn't step forward.''