LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Dept. of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva will headline a virtual town hall meeting next week hosted by the Reform Alliance.
In addition to working groups happening across the state soon, the department hopes to clarify elements some in the education realm call confusing.
Several districts including the Little Rock School District said they are concerned about the funding aspect of this bill, saying the math does not add up. The state has promised to raise minimum teacher starting salaries to $50,000 and give all teachers a $2000 raise, and these districts are concerned that funding will not be possible.
In an email sent to KARK 4 News, a spokesperson for the Dept. of Education called this “misinformation.”
“There is a lot of false information being circulated by some districts and some local school board members regarding the funding they will receive from the state under LEARNS,” the email said.
“If districts or local board members are saying the state isn’t giving them enough money under LEARNS to cover the salary increases, please check with them regarding their methodology. The LEARNS Act clearly states that the state will cover the cost of raising minimum teacher salaries up to $50,000, as well as the $2,000 raises outlined in the law. Districts are welcome to cover the costs that go above and beyond that. As testified by the bill sponsors, the intent of the legislation is to sustain funding in future years.”
Some educators said they have questions about whether private schools will be required to accept students with disabilities, whether private schools can deny students based on religious beliefs, plus several funding questions.
Oliva said working groups are happening across the state to get input on many topics and iron out the details.
“We’re going to put out a statewide call, and we’re going to go through there and get these work groups established and start going through that process to act with urgency,” Oliva said in a Capitol View interview earlier this month.