Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state can no longer maintain the existing level of funding it allocates for public school facilities
Arkansas Online reports that the governor has asked the state's Advisory Committee on Public School Academic Facilities to recommend changes in how the state supports school facilities.
"We've been going down a path in terms of facility funding that needs to be adjusted," Hutchinson says.
Since 2006, about $3.2 billion has been allocated for academic space in the state's public school districts—$1.1 billion of that provided by the state. This is the result of a state Supreme Court decision, Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, that declared Arkansas' system of funding public schools inequitable, inadequate and unconstitutional.
The decision resulted in legislation that created a funding agreement for facilities between the school districts and the state. But Hutchinson says spending at that rate—an average of about $100 million each year—is unsustainable,
"We can't sustain that every year after we meet the needs of our state whenever you take $100 million of growth money, of new money, and say it's going in facilities," the governor says.
Brad Montgomery, director of the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities, says the condition of Arkansas public school buildings has come a long way since the Lake View decision, but some schools still have a ways to go.
The $3.2 billion has paid for 2,453 projects throughout the state, Montgomery says. These included fixing heating and air conditioning systems, fire alarms, electricity, plumbing and structural issues, as well as building new schools to accommodate growth and to replace outdated facilities.
Montgomery says the advisory committee will review spending on school facilities and present a report to the state executive and legislative branches by July 2018.