Arkansas Lawmakers Boost School Spending
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative session. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The Arkansas legislature, which wrapped up its business April 3, allocated $456 million to repair school buildings cited in an Arkansas Supreme Court review of the state’s schools.
“If you don’t do it when you’ve got it, then it will be gone for another purpose,” said Gov. Mike Beebe, according to the Associated Press. “The way to do it,” the first-term Democrat said, “was the way we did it, set the money aside, no ifs, ands, or buts.”
Lawmakers also provided an increase in per-pupil spending from $5,620 in the 2006-07 school year to $5,719 next year, and to $5,789 in 2008-09.
The legislature approved a $40 million increase for prekindergarten education, extending the state’s program to children whose parents earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It also passed a measure allowing parents who are state employees to use paid leave to volunteer at their children’s schools.
In other action, the legislature developed guidelines for the Traveling Teachers program, which will allow teachers who can lead classes in high-need subjects to work in more than one school. The program was funded at $1 million over two years.
And the lawmakers enacted an alternative-pay pilot project for teachers, financed at $5 million over the next two years.
Vol. 26, Issue 32, Page 24