LITTLE ROCK — A lawmaker Wednesday withdrew his amendment to the state Department of Education's budget bill to extend the time the state can maintain control of a local school district.
LITTLE ROCK — A lawmaker Wednesday withdrew his amendment to the state Department of Education’s budget bill to extend the time the state can maintain control of a local school district.
Rep. Mark Perry, D-Jacksonville, co-sponsor of the amendment, said he withdrew it because of some opposition and to give Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell more time to develop and possibly expand the proposal.
“We’re going to work on that next year during the regular session,” Perry said. “Dr. Kimbrell wants to be able to work with more folks and expand on the actual bill, instead of adding special language.”
Education Department spokesman Seth Blomeley said later that the goal is to “introduce something more comprehensive” in 2013.
The amendment, which would have extended the time the department can maintain control of a district it has taken over from the current two years to five years, was on the Special Language Subcommittee’s agenda Wednesday afternoon, but Rep. Tracy Pennartz, D-Fort Smith, co-chairman of the panel, announced at the beginning of the meeting that it had been withdrawn.
The Joint Budget Committee referred the amendment to the subcommittee Tuesday after Sens. Linda Chesterfield and Joyce Elliott, both D-Little Rock, complained that giving the state more time to run a district would weaken local control.
Perry said Wednesday he met with Chesterfield and Elliott and discussed their concerns before agreeing to withdraw the bill.
“I visited with them and they each had their opinions, so I said, ‘I’ll tell you what we’ll do, instead of just putting special language on a bill we’ll come back and actually do a bill next year that pertains to all of this,’” he said.
Kimbrell told the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee last month that the state needs more time to correct the financial problems of a school district over which it takes control.
Kimbrell’s comments came as the committee was reviewing an audit of the Helena-West Helena School District, which for the second time since 2005 is under state control because of fiscal distress.
The Pulaski County Special District also is under state control.