Lawmakers to Address State School Funding - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Lawmakers to Address State School Funding

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV)--Another bill to be discussed during the special session is upsetting some school leaders.

Eight districts have raised extra money through special millage votes.

This bill would let the state take control of that extra money and spread it around other districts.

A 2012 Arkansas Supreme Court decision ruled that districts do not have to give the state department of education money they collect in the statewide 25-mill property tax.

While some 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.

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

Money Kellogg said, his district among the other seven facing the same problem will have a difficult time making up.

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

Spread throughout seven counties, eight different districts combined bring in a total of more than $8 Million in extra revenue collected from property taxes.

But none receive foundation funding aid from the state.

"We don't get the amount of categorical funding that you're talking about, NSLA money, we don't qualify for the percentage other schools get," said Darin Beckwith, Fountain Lake Schools Superintendent.

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

"Say they 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 biology labs, they may not have no facilities funds for all the schools now," said Jerri Derlikowski, Director of Education Policy and Finance.

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