May 25, 2001 – Judge Collins Kilgore in Pulaski County Circuit Court found that the Arkansas system of public education was unconstitutional. Commonly known as the Lake View Case. Judge Kilgore declared that the school finance system was both inequitable and inadequate.
November 21, 2002 – The Arkansas State Supreme Court upheld Judge Kilgore’s ruling and agreed that the school finance system of Arkansas was both inequitable and inadequate. State was not meeting its constitutional commitment to “maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools.”
The Supreme Court held that as part of the remedy, the State must conduct a school finance adequacy study, pointing out that such a study had been requested in the Court’s ruling beginning in 1994 and again by Judge Kilgore in his 2001 ruling. 15 years of litigation.
2003 – The General Assembly created the Joint Committee on Education Adequacy. The newly-formed Joint Committee on Educational Adequacy contracted with Lawrence Picus and Associates (school funding experts) to assist the Committee in carrying out its charge to conduct an Adequacy Study.
Educational adequacy is defined as: ◦ The standards included in the state’s curriculum frameworks, which define what all Arkansas students are to be taught; ◦ The standards included in the state’s testing system. The goal is to have all, or all but the most severely disabled, students perform at or above proficiency on these tests; and ◦ Sufficient funding to provide adequate resources as identified by the General Assembly.
This definition of educational adequacy is consistent with the statutory language quoted by the Arkansas Supreme Court in the Lakeview Case. The JC on Educational Adequacy together with Picus devoted 4 months to the study and review of AR school finance in adequacy issues to determine this definition and cost of an adequate education in AR. (2003)
September 1, 2003 – An Evidence-Based Approach to School Finance Adequacy in Arkansas was filed with the General Assembly and the Governor. ◦ “evidenced-based.” ◦ “ingredients needed to deliver quality education.” ◦ “adequate expenditure level for each ingredient.” ◦ “aggregating to a total cost.” ◦ “based on existing models of comprehensive school design rather than just making judgments.”
The 2003 Picus Report including funding and staffing recommendation based on a school size of 500 students. Then Senator Dave Bisbee is widely credited with converting that school-based funding formula to a matrix used to determine the per-pupil level of foundation funding. Actually called the “Bisbee Matrix” for awhile.
The Legislature adopted the Bisbee matrix during the 2 nd Extraordinary Session of 2003. Also passed Act 57 of 2003 which requires the legislature to conduct an adequacy study each biennium to assess needs related to providing an adequate education. Not even close to being finished!!!
After the 2 nd Extraordinary Session of 2003, four school districts (Rogers, Barton-Lexa, Little Rock, and Pulaski County) petitioned the Supreme Court to keep the Lakeview Case open for another review. The Supreme Court appointed (Feb 2004) two special masters to “examine and evaluate legislative and executive actions taken since Nov 2002 to comply with the court’s order and the constitutional mandate.”
Funding for education had increased. New special funding provided (NSLA). “Doomsday Clause.” New accountability requirements. Not sure if the definition of “adequacy” was what the Court was looking for.
Suggested the retention of small community elementary and middle schools and consolidated high schools for a greater variety of curricular offerings. Noted the increased funding for Early Childhood Education was less than half recommended by the original Adequacy Study.
Commented on the “undeniably substandard school buildings found in many school districts.” Concluded that much well-intentioned legislation is now in place in response to the Court’s decision. No guarantee that the initiated plan will be followed beyond current appropriations. Report filed April 2004.
In June 2004, the Supreme Court rules that the actions of the AR legislature were adequate and further action in this matter should await implementation of the Acts passed by the Legislature. End of Lakeview??? Not even close!!!
2005 Legislative Session. Lake View plaintiffs file motion to reopen the suit claiming that 2005 actions by the State were insufficient. Supreme Court reappoints the special masters. ◦ Bradley Jesson and David Newbern, both former Arkansas Supreme Court Justices.
In Oct 2005, special masters conclude: ◦ School funding was not adequate. Funding had not been increased to adjust for increased costs due to inflation. ◦ State had not lived up to its promise to make education the State’s first priority. ◦ Suggested that the determination of funding levels appeared to be a function of available resources and not the needs of school districts.
Accepted most of the special masters’ findings and recommendations. Held that the State had not conducted an appropriation “recalibration” of the adequacy study to ascertain what the funding levels for 05-06 and 06-07 should be. Established a deadline of December 1, 2006 for the Legislature to find a solution. December 15, 2005 Ruling.
Special session convened April 2006. Substantial increases in funding. The legislature “re-employed” Picus and Associates, with aid from the BLR, to “recalibrate” the funding levels for AR schools for 06-07 and 07-08. This report was submitted August 2006.
In May 2007, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that the State’s system of funding public schools met the constitutional requirements of providing an adequate education and substantially equal educational opportunity for all public school children in Arkansas.
2003 General Legislative Session. JC on Education Adequacy established. 1 st Picus Report. 2003 Special Legislative Session. 1 st Special Masters Report. 2005 General Legislative Session. 2 nd Special Masters Report. 2006 Special Legislative Session. 2 nd Picus Report (recalibration).
What is that? Everything else Operations & Maintenance $640.30 Central Office $430.20 Transportation $315.50
Actual expenditures by district vary widely from district to district. Much discussion the past several years about adding separate funding called “high-cost” or “enhanced” transportation funding. Distribute this “extra funding on a formula based on “essential linear route miles.”
Act 57 of 2003, as amended by Act 1204 of 2007, requires the Legislature to conduct an adequacy study each biennium to assess needs related to providing an adequate education for all Arkansas K-12 students. Joint Subcommittee on Educational Adequacy Joint House/Senate Education Committee Legislature by September 1 st prior to the next regular Legislative Session.
The Adequacy Committee has adopted the adequacy study and sent to Joint House and Senate Education Committees. No decision yet on a recommended inflationary factor. Discussion continues on which inflationary index to use. No decision yet on an “enhanced transportation funding” recommendation.
Increased teacher salaries. First statewide plan to improve academic facilities. Standardized and improved curriculum requirements. School accountability measures. Increased funding to school districts.
Continuing disparity of teacher salaries across the state. Funding decisions are driven by available funds. Adequacy is a process to be revisited over and over again.
Decline of “institutional memory” as new legislators come to Little Rock due to term limits. Inclination to turn the funding “matrix” into an “expenditure” matrix.
Aligning the Adequacy Funding Matrix and APSCN coding requirements in such a way to create a clear picture of school district revenue and expenditures. Clear to school personnel and clear to legislators.
Code correctly Be sure whoever fills out the Adequacy Survey understands it and it’s importance Repeat After Me ◦ The Matrix is ……..