Lawmakers to Address State School Funding

LITTLE ROCK (KATV)--Anotherbill to be discussed during the special session is upsetting some schoolleaders.

Eightdistricts have raised extra money through special millage votes.

Thisbill would let the state take control of that extra money and spread it aroundother districts.

A2012 Arkansas Supreme Court decision ruled that districts do not have to givethe state department of education money they collect in the statewide 25-millproperty tax.

Whilesome say that means more than $8 Million in extra revenue is just sitting there,the districts fighting to keep their dollars say they need every penny.

"Theconcerns we have as superintendents is such a tremendous concern for loss ofbudgets if this property tax is taken away from local. It's going to rangebetween eight and 30 percent of our budgets, in my case of Eureka Springs, saidDavid Kellogg Eureka Springs Superintendent.

MoneyKellogg said, his district among the other seven facing the same problem willhave a difficult time making up.

"We'vebeen portrayed in some ways as rich school districts, almost all of us, 3/4thsof us involved probably, are free reduced lunch camps, running in the mid 60sdistrict wide," added Kellogg.

Spreadthroughout seven counties, eight different districts combined bring in a totalof more than $8 Million in extra revenue collected from property taxes.

Butnone receive foundation funding aid from the state.

"Wedon't get the amount of categorical funding that you're talking about, NSLAmoney, we don't qualify for the percentage other schools get," said DarinBeckwith, Fountain Lake Schools Superintendent.

However,some are willing to argue that in the end, it's the children suffering ifmonies aren't spread out evenly across the state.

"Saythey wanted to do a new tech program and change their classroom layouts,because that program requires it, or they have a need to update their biologylabs, they may not have no facilities funds for all the schools now," saidJerri Derlikowski, Director of Education Policy and Finance.

Today,all eight districts met with their attorney, and they say if the bill passes, they'rewilling to make this another lawsuit.