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Arkansas governor issues executive order to streamline education funding programs

By: - January 19, 2023 3:34 pm
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs an executive order on Jan. 13, 2023, disbanding seven committees created by her predecessor, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, in 2020 in response the COVID-19 pandemic. (Governor's Press Office)
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs an executive order on Jan. 13, 2023, disbanding seven committees created by her predecessor, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, in 2020 in response the COVID-19 pandemic. (Governor’s Press Office)

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ latest executive order aims to limit government overreach, reduce red tape and improve education, according to a press release issued Thursday. 

The executive order directs Education Secretary Jacob Oliva to develop a unified system that streamlines all state and federal funding programs from multiple plans and budgets into a single application for each. The application will be operational for the 2024-25 budget cycle, which begins July 1.

Prior to launching the unified application, Oliva will conduct a review to identify “out-of-date, unnecessary or otherwise burdensome state laws, regulations, reporting requirements and processes” for public schools, officers and employees. The review will include input from educators, advocates and families.

Oliva will recommend executive orders and statutory or regulatory changes to the governor and/or the State Board of Education prior to the unified application’s launch.

He will also establish a process where school districts can submit feedback about burdensome or redundant laws and regulations before launching the new application.

According to the executive order, consolidating processes into a “single, comprehensive application and planning framework” will lead to higher student achievement.

This is the third order she’s issued that focuses on education. 

One of seven executive orders Sanders signed on her first day in office bans the “indoctrination” of Arkansas school children with ideas like critical race theory. This curriculum is typically not taught in K-12 schools in Arkansas, and it is reserved mostly for graduate-level college coursework.

On her second day in office, Sanders signed an executive order covering a variety of issues, including literacy, school choice and early childhood education.

Sanders called the order “a comprehensive approach [to] education that we want to parallel” with a single bill that will move through the Legislature, encompassing the same issues and more, including teacher pay. The bill will be filed “very soon,” Sanders said.

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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.

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