For the past half century, Arkansas has spent less per pupil than most other states. However, spurred in part by the State Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling that the state’s school system is “inequitable and inadequate,” the state is now strengthening its commitment to fund better educational opportunities for all students. During 2003, experts have estimated that the state will require nearly $850 million in additional funding to deliver an “adequate education” to all students in the state—a 48% increase in the state’s spending for public schools. In addition, lawmakers spent most of the past year focused on ways to finance the improvement of school facilities for students throughout the state. Thus, in 2003-04, Arkansas increased the total state appropriation for elementary and secondary education by approximately $400 million to $1.84 billion—a 24 percent increase over the previous year. However, such a large increase was not appealing to the state’s lawmakers.
McKenzie, Sarah C. and Ritter, Gary W., "Arkansas School Finance 2005: Finding Funds for Facilities" (2005). Policy Briefs. 110.