School districts that collect more in property taxes than state-mandated school funding levels can keep the money, a sharply divided Arkansas Supreme Court ruled last week in a decision that top officials said threatened reforms intended to provide equitable education funding across the state.
The high court ruled 4-3 that state education officials cannot withhold excess money from the Eureka Springs and Fountain Lake school districts, where higher property-tax collections pushed the districts above total school funding levels set by state law. Chief Justice Jim Hannah wrote the dissent, warning the decision “obliterated” a school funding system that legislators hammered out to end a long-running court case.
A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2012 edition of Education Week as Districts Keep Surplus, Ark. High Court Rules