Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell and Deputy Commissioner Tony Wood continued their tour of educational cooperatives on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, when they stopped in Heber Springs to visit with members of the Northcentral Arkansas Education Service Cooperative. Kimbrell and Wood were briefing about 20 superintendents and cooperative officials on new education laws passed during the 2011 legislative session. Points Kimbrell and Wood made include:
— Some local school board officials may notice that their district balances will see swings as a result of a law that will phase-out “40 percent pullback” which has to do with how revenues are reported because fiscal years don’t match up with property tax assessment periods. Administrators are advised to communicate the reasons for the fluctuations to their local boards.
— The ADE is working on a formula to distribute the total of $500,000 to districts statewide for “high cost transportation.” Keep in mind that the greater number of districts who receive money will dilute the amount available for each district. The ADE is happy to hear suggestions on a formula from school officials.
— Districts must provide 10 sick days for teachers. Most districts are already doing this but some have been providing only 9.5 days.
— Districts must gradually reduce their fund balances for categorical funding, such as from NSLA or “poverty” funds under the provisions of Act 1220, which is provided to help educate low-income students. “Don’t spend money just to spend money but that money is there for a purpose,” Kimbrell said.