Small school sups reject reform proposal

(September 4, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- It's back to the drawing board in working toward an alternative to Governor Huckabee's education reform plan. Superintendents from small school districts yesterday overwhelmingly rejected a proposed efficiency standard that districts would have to meet by 2006 or face consolidation. Members of the Arkansas Rural Educators Association voted 115-to-30 against the measure. In recent weeks, superintendents representing large and small districts developed an efficiency model. It was touted as a key element in an alternative to Huckabee's plan to meet a court mandate to overhaul schools. The superintendents' proposal defined efficiency using variables including teacher salaries, student test scores, and operational and administrative costs. But rural educators say that standard weighs too heavily on the poorest districts.