"Adequacy Study" Calls for Increased Funding and Recommends Major Restructuring
On September 3, 2003, the Arkansas Joint Committee on Educational Adequacy
released a study that calculates the cost of providing an adequate education for
the state's pre-K through 12th-grade students at a figure 33% higher than current
spending. The Joint Committee's report, "An
Evidence-Based Approach to School Finance Adequacy in Arkansas," also delineates
strategies it says are essential if additional resources are to result in students
being able to meet the state's achievement standards.
The cost study asserts
that annual school funding would have to increase by $848 million to provide the
resources needed to enable students to meet the state's performance standards.
That's a 33% increase over the $2.6 billion (from all sources) spent by Arkansas
schools in the 2001-2002 school year. (All numbers exclude capital and debt-service
spending.) Consultants performing the cost study used the effective
strategies and professional judgment methodologies.
The Joint Committee's
report explains that implementation of its recommendations would require most
schools to "restructure their academic programs, strengthen their core academic
courses, and reallocate  resources . . . to a more effective, school wide educational
program." Emphasizing funds for small class sizes, pre-school for all low-income
3 and 4-year-old children, and teacher salaries that are competitive with surrounding
states, the study also recommends that additional monies be directed toward the
purchase of "effective curriculum programs," improved leadership, and intensive
The state formed this Joint Committee of the legislature
in response to the Arkansas Supreme Court's decision,
last November in Lake
View v. State, in which the court declared the
state education finance system unconstitutional and
ordered the state to conduct an adequacy study. Since
then, the proposed consolidation of Arkansas's rural
school districts has also become a key issue.
supreme court set a January 2004 deadline for the state to remedy the constitutional
Prepared September 4, 2003