State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Pre-fiscal budget hearings began this week with the Governor outlining his balanced budget proposal calling for a 3.3% increase in spending. 


We will be reviewing the proposal while we continue to hear requests from state agencies and commissions in the days ahead. 


As we prepare for the 2022 Fiscal Session, we want to remind you of another series of legislative meetings with a significant impact on our state.


Earlier this month, the House and Senate Education Committees met to begin the 2022 Adequacy Study.


Public education is the largest spending category in state government. 


The Adequacy Study statute requires the House and Senate Education Committees to evaluate the entire spectrum of public education to determine whether students receive equal opportunity for an adequate education.


Committee members research everything from teacher salaries to technology needs. Arkansas uses a specific formula, known as the matrix, to arrive at the per-student funding amount.


The current foundation funding for public education in Arkansas is $7,182 per student. It is scheduled to increase to $7,349 per student for the 2022-2023 school year.


Arkansas ranks 38th in the nation on spending per student.


In February, the committees will review state-level and district-level funding and spending.


In April, committee members will review teacher recruitment, retention, and salaries and well as professional development and facilities.


In May, they will review educational programs and waivers, and in June, they will review student achievement and achievement gaps.


A report presented to the education committees this month shows that 40.4% of our 4th graders were ready or exceeding in reading. And 43.1% of 4th graders are ready or exceeding in math. 


It also showed ACT composite scores and college-going rates in Arkansas are below the national average. 


The adequacy study process takes an in-depth look at what our schools need to help improve these scores and enable our students to succeed. 


The final report on the study is due November 1. Members use this report to guide decisions on funding for the following year.


The House and Senate Education Committees will meet again on February 7 and February 8. You can watch live-streamed and recorded committee meetings at www.arkansashouse.org.


1-14-22 5:45 p.m. KAWX.ORG