"Self-reform" proposed

(August 15, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Community-supported self-reform is being offered as an alternative to consolidation of smaller, rural school districts. Yesterday, a group formed to oppose Governor Huckabee's plan to overhaul the state's public-school financing system unveiled an alternative plan. The plan offered by a group called Save Our Schools would reorganize the state Education Department and the state Education Board that supervises it. Members of the board are now appointed by the governor, and the state education director is selected by the governor. Under the S-O-S plan, board members would be either elected or selected by the governor and the Legislature, and the education director would be selected by the board. S-O-S describes itself as a coalition of parents, teachers and administrators in 200 small, rural districts around the state. Lavina Grandon of Everton, lead organizer of SOS, is a teacher in the 900-district Valley Springs School District south of Harrison. She said she drew up the plan after a month of consulting with legislators, parents and school officials.