Arkadelphia News

LEARNS Act implications discussed with Northwest Arkansas superintendents

Meetings with state’s 15 education co-ops planned for coming weeks

By ANTOINETTE GRAJEDA | Arkansas Advocate

Greenland School District superintendent Andrea Martin said she’s “been hungry for information” as the LEARNS Act made its way through the Legislature. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the expansive education bill into law Wednesday.

On Friday, Education Secretary Jacob Oliva traveled to the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative in Farmington where he met with Martin and other superintendents in the region to discuss their concerns about the new legislation. 

Although the majority of provisions from the LEARNS Act are now in effect, many questions remain about the funding mechanisms and implementation of the law’s mandates because those details have yet to be decided through the rulemaking process.

As a rural district superintendent who has experience working with districts in fiscal distress, Martin said she wanted to know more about the sustainability of funding to support LEARNS Act initiatives in the coming years.

“I got some good answers on finance and funding and some reassurement there, but obviously there’s still more questions,” Martin said. “There’s always [more] and if there weren’t, I guess we’d be kind of stagnant.”

Education Secretary Jacob Oliva spoke to superintendents about the LEARNS Act during a meeting at the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative on Mar. 10, 2023. | Antoinette Grajeda/Arkansas Advocate

Following the Northwest Arkansas meeting Friday morning, Oliva was scheduled to attend a second one in the River Valley as part of an effort to meet with superintendents across the state. Oliva said he plans to visit all 15 of the state’s education cooperatives next week and the week following Spring Break. 

“I was really impressed with the questions, the thoughtfulness, the willingness and eagerness to help improve learning,” Oliva said. “This was a very productive meeting.” 

As the former superintendent of a Florida school district, Oliva said he wasn’t surprised that one of administrators’ biggest questions was when they would know how much foundation funding they’ll receive so they can create their budgets.

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2 replies »

  1. It’s fascinating that our state government can pass a bill where the financial portion is to be decided AFTER said bill is signed into law.

  2. The only superintendent covered was from Greenland. I’m more curious about the large school’s opinion, as well as more than one small school’s take. We do have Springdale and Fayeyetteville school districts in Washington County.

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