- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

GREENWOOD, Ark. (AP) - The Greenwood School Board has unanimously voted to intervene in a lawsuit that challenges how the state funds public schools.

The board voted 6-0 on Thursday to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Deer/Mount Judea School District. Last fall, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit brought up new school funding claims that weren’t addressed by the long-running Lake View case that ended in 2007. The high court sent the case back to Pulaski County Circuit Court, where the case remains pending.

The 360-student Deer/Mount Judea district argued that the state failed to address inequities between state schools on transportation funding and average teacher salaries, citing a $26,000 gap between the lowest and highest average pay for teachers in the state. It also argued that Arkansas hasn’t adequately funded isolated school districts.

The tiny Lake View School District sued the state in 1992, challenging the constitutionality of a system that allowed wide funding disparities between wealthy and poor districts. The case ended in 2007 after reforms were enacted and justices ruled that Arkansas had adequately funded its schools.

“Changes to the funding structure can have a significant impact upon the operation of local schools; and . the Deer/Mount Judea School District has challenged the funding formula in its structure, the manner of determining the level of adequacy and other issues,” the resolution approved by the Greenwood School Board said.

Greenwood Superintendent John Ciesla said it’s in his district’s best interest to speak out because the outcome of the Deer/Mount Judea lawsuit will affect it. The resolution directs Ciesla to take appropriate action to protect the district’s interests, including retaining legal counsel and filing paperwork to intervene in the Deer/Mount Judea case. The Southwest Times Record reported Friday (https://bit.ly/KPPis0 ) that the Van Buren School District also voted this month to intervene in the case.


Information from: Southwest Times Record, https://www.swtimes.com/

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