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Heard the following interesting tidbits at last Wednesday’s Joint Budget Committee’s hearings on the state’s Education Department:

*   Gifted & Talented Program: One legislator wants increased funding, as “they will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

*   “Why are students at the bottom of the ladder when we’re told that Arkansas is doing the right things?” Good assessments are difficult; we are not always measuring progress correctly.

*   Arkansas’ Education Department currently employs 300 people; however the budget allows for 330.

*   Transportation is a big issue. Schools that qualify as “isolated” receive additional transportation funding.

*   A big part of future needs is broadband communications. More records will be kept online and accessibility (technology) will be necessary to keep up-to-date.

*   Cursive writing is not a standard, nor a requirement….

*   Legislators questioned whether the Education Department, when writing the budget, considered the loss of property taxes due to housing devaluation and the down economy and were assured the Department had included those factors in their forecast figures.