In the recently published opinion piece, “Writing on the Wall”, there were many questions posed to the Legislature. These are the facts.
This is the history. Every two years since 2004, the Joint House and Senate Education Committees initiates and completes an “Adequacy Study” because we are under an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling from the Lake View School District No. 25 v Huckabee lawsuit and under Arkansas State Law, A.C.A. 10-3-2102 that requires this study. Under the Arkansas Constitution, it is the state’s responsibility to provide a revenue structure that supports an adequate and equitable education for all students in the public school system.
This study, based on state law, reviews reports from Legislative Audit on all funding received by public schools for each program, academic standards developed by Arkansas Dept. of Education (ADE), a complete analysis of every dollar spent by public schools, an analysis of teacher and staff compensation within the state and comparable to other states, as well as performance levels of the students, additional reports and reviews. We are bound by the Supreme Court ruling to address ALL issues of adequacy (that includes teacher pay) comprehensively. The study will be completed in approximately 60 days.
It’s relevant because it is required under the law and our constitution.
As a result of the Adequacy Studies, under Act 124 of 2007, the Foundation Funding Matrix was created to fund schools on a per student basis. This is known as “foundation funding”. This is a “funding” formula, not a “spending” mandate. Local school districts and school boards make spending decisions with these funds based on their local needs.
Specifically, the Arkansas Legislature, through this Foundation Funding Matrix gave every school district for teachers’ salaries plus benefits for fiscal year 2022: $56,999.92 for base salary, $12,539.98 for benefits, $2,045.90 for health benefits for a total of $71,585.80. These amounts do not include additional expenditures that are borne by school districts, only the funding that is provided.
Local superintendents and school boards set teacher and staff salaries. Arkansas state law sets a base salary for teachers. Many schools pay above this base/starting salary.
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All information for the Arkansas Legislature, the Adequacy Study Review, all laws and documents, including livestreaming of all meetings, archives of past meetings, can be found at www.arkleg.state.ar.us.
Senator Missy Irvin
Arkansas State Senate
Representative Brian S. Evans
Arkansas House of Representatives
Read the full column submitted by Irvin and Evans in the Aug. 17 issue.
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