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Our View


Our View

A better way to spend our education dollars

If the statistics are accurate, we would certainly encourage Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to seriously evaluate how our tax dollars are being distributed among the stateʼs public universities and colleges.

We say that in light of a recent analysis conducted by a state official who found that Arkansas spends less than most other states on instructional expenses, student services and academic support, but more on institutional support, including administrative costs.

What this leads us to believe is a greater portion of our tax dollars and tuition paid for with student loans are going to support the hefty salaries of tenured professors, some of whom are ranking in five and six figure annual salaries as well as those lucky bunch of people in cushy and comfortable administrative positions.

We learned the data was prepared by Brett Powell, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Powell presented his findings to our elected lawmakers at a recent Legislative Task Force to Study the Realignment of Higher Education.

So seems there has been a red flag raised among members of our distinguished lawmakers concerned over administrative expenses. Weʼre told members of this task force are considering how our stateʼs higher education is structured in addition to redundancy issues. From that information these lawmakers are expected to find ways to save our tax dollars. Powell found that one of the reasons for the high administration costs is due to the fact most of the stateʼs institutions are smaller than those in other states.

This is exactly why Rep. Mark Lowery, RMaumelle, co-chairman of the task force, attempted last year to introduce legislation to merge the University of Central Arkansas into the Arkansas State University System.

We find this to also be an issue with the public educational system on the lower level where we believe the exact same issues exist, and in our opinion is even worse. For example, there are 75 counties in Arkansas whereas there are 341 separate school districts, each with their own well-paid superintendent, assistant superintendent, administrative and support staff.

From information we obtaining from the total staff amounts to almost 65,000; almost 31,000 teachers; almost 15,500 secondary teachers; over 1,200 guidance counselors; over 1,550 school administrators; 3,284 so-called student support services staff; 15,600 student support services staff as well as 15,628 employees classified as “other support staff”.

What if, for example, would it be like to save the Arkansas taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars by simply eliminating the majority of these costly districts and having just one school district per county?

The same sort of consolidation should be seriously considered and implemented with the stateʼs universities and colleges.

We believe not only would the cost savings be astronomical but students attending these public schools, universities and colleges would clearly benefit.

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