LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Nine days after Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed her signature education reform bill, the LEARNS Act, into law, members of the Little Rock School Board are still not sure how pay raises for teachers will be funded.
The LEARNS Act aims to raise starting salary for Arkansas teachers to $50,000, which would push the state from 48th to fourth in the nation for starting pay.
During Thursday night's meeting, board member Ali Noland claimed the Bryant School District would be footing most of the bill for their teacher's raises. She questioned if LRSD would have to do the same.
Kelsey Bailey, Little Rock's Chief Financial Officer, told board members that the state would only be providing the district with $4.3 million, which is about a third of what it will cost to provide the increased pay.
"It is going to cost us about $12.5 million," Bailey said. "Based on a report I saw, the preliminary numbers, the state is going to fund Little Rock about $4.3 million of that."
Disappointed, Noland explained the state was not delivering what it promised in the LEARNS Act.
"I will keep this short, but I will use my board comment to say to say how frustrated and disappointed I am as a board member that public statements were made during the passage of the LEARNS Act about funding for these teacher raises and you know, districts are going to be left trying to figure out how to do this," said Noland.
KATV reached out to the governor's office Friday and a spokesperson said the LRSD School Board was mistaken:
The Governor’s historic legislation was clear that the state is funding raises to $50,000 for teachers below that salary and an additional $2,000 raise for all other teachers. This brings Arkansas from one of the lowest to one of the highest in the nation for teachers pay. School districts inability to read legislation and understand a budget is no reason to spread false information online.