Arkansas Will Stop Paying Schools to Integrate

Since 1989, Arkansas has paid the three districts more than $1 billion

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Three school districts have reached a settlement with the state of Arkansas to end years of payments they received for integrating black and white students, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Under federal-court supervision since 1989, Arkansas has paid $70 million each year to support desegregation efforts in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts. The funds, totaling more than $1 billion, have been put toward transporting students to attend schools where they would be the minority and building magnet schools that were racially balanced.

Of the three, only Pulaski County remains only partially desegregated; Little Rock and North Little Rock districts have been declared mostly integrated since 2007.

The Joshua intervenors, a group that represents black students in those districts, was the lone holdout until the patrons agreed to the settlement on Monday, after a resolution had passed to find out which schools should be the top priority and to also focus on ones in southwest Little Rock.

The settlement was presented to a federal judge who must still sign off on it. If the agreement is approved—the judge asked both sides to return for a hearing on Nov. 22—it would take effect beginning in August 2018, even though the three districts wanted the funding to remain in place for seven years.

Gov. Mike Beebe praised the state’s attorney general’s office for “diligently working” with the districts on the measure and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel called today a “great day for Arkansas.”