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Ruling puts in question plan to covert school district to charter school


LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas judge ruled Friday that a recently passed education law cannot take effect until Aug. 1, putting in doubt state education officials’ vote to let a charter school organization take over a small school district.

Judge Herbert Wright’s ruling arises from the Legislature’s adoption of the Arkansas LEARNS Act. The law allows any school district that is facing consolidation with another district to instead contract with a charter school or another entity to run its schools.

Wright’s ruling said the law was properly passed by the Legislature and signed into law by by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in March. But he cited video of legislative action in ruling that a provision allowing it to take effect immediately was not properly adopted, meaning the law can’t take effect until Aug. 1.

Under the new law, the state Board of Education recently voted to let the Marvell-Elaine School District enter a three-year “transformation contract” with the nonprofit Friendship Education Foundation. The Washington-based group would operate the 306student district.

“I will appeal this ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court immediately and will continue to defend the LEARNS Act enthusiastically,” state Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a news release.

Ali Noland, an attorney for those challenging the law, said video records show the provision to make the law immediately effective was not voted on in accordance with the Arkansas Constitution.

“As such, Judge Wright correctly ruled today that the LEARNS Act is not yet law, and the State Board of Education lacked authority to enter into the “transformation contract” handing over management of the Marvell-Elaine School District to a charterschool management company and terminating the district’s teachers and staff.


State ends fiscal year with $1.1 billion surplus

LITTLE ROCK — The fiscal year ended in Arkansas with a surplus of more than $1.1 billion, which is the state’s second largest, finance officials announced Wednesday.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said the state’s net available revenue for the fiscal year that ended on Friday totaled nearly $7.2 billion. The state’s individual income taxes came in below last year’s numbers but above what was forecast, while corporate income and sales tax collections were above last year and forecast.

“The economy outperformed expectations across the fiscal year in revenue results amid volatility from slowing inflation, tax reductions and tight labor markets,” Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther said.

The record for a surplus was set in the previous fiscal year, when Arkansas reported a $1.6 billion surplus. The state has reported its highest surpluses over the past 3 years.

Republican lawmakers have cited the state’s surpluses as they’ve pushed for tax cuts in Arkansas in recent years. In April, Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law a measure cutting individual and corporate income taxes by $124 million a year.

Alexa Henning, a spokesperson for Sanders, said the governor “will continue working to responsibly phase out the state income tax. Henning said that “being financially sound and strong helps keep us moving in that direction.”


PARAGOULD — An event this weekend will bring comic book and movie enthusiasts to Paragould, with officials expecting a good crowd.

The Nerds! Assemble Comic Convention will be Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9 at the Paragould Community Center, located at 3404 Linwood Drive. Brandon Jones, an organizer for the event, said at least 15 guests and 40 vendors or more will be there to meet with people. The guests include voice actors for anime as well as comic book artists and writers such as: Graham Misiurak, Dina Sherman, Mike DeCarlo, Jeremy Clark, Brook Chalmers, Juan Gedeon, Megan Hollingshead, William Russell, Marc Thompson, Kelly Williams, Chris Tergliafera, Timothy Lim, Claire Blackwater, Santiago Cirilo, and Ivy Cosplay.

Jonesboro Radio Group personality Phil Jamison will be the emcee for the event Saturday and East Arkansas Broadcasters personality Wes Tittle will be the emcee on Sunday.

The event Saturday will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the event Sunday will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jones said the Comic-Con last year brought people from Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri to the event. To learn more about the event visit https://jonesboroarkansascomic

Photo courtesy of NACC

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