State of Arkansas Task Force on Educational Facilities
OT Marshall Architects created and executed a process that resulted in the reform of school capital funding in Arkansas.
In 2005, the West Helena school district filed a lawsuit that said it was not receiving its fair share of capital funding from the state for its schools. The lawsuit eventually became a class action lawsuit and made its way to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which ruled that the justices lacked data and information to make a determination on the claim that minority school districts were not receiving their fair share.
The Supreme Court ordered a review of schools, and this firm was hired to conduct a Facility Condition assessment for schools in the state. Because of the size of the project, the state was divided into two parts and our firm was responsible for one-half. We sent two architects and two engineers to conduct a Facility Condition Assessment for 462 schools in 86 school districts Facility Condition Assessments provided an accurate picture of the physical asset, its operating life, the extend of deferred maintenance, and cost analyses to project capital needs for each school.
It is a process similar to what our firm has done for every school in Memphis and Minneapolis. In Arkansas, we created a ratings template that was used in both halves of the state to ensure consistency and coordinated the training of the teams that would conduct the process.
Following the completion of the assessments, the Arkansas Supreme Court asked for an additional examination of the schools to determine if majority African American schools were being treated differently than majority Caucasian schools. To this end, in addition to the Facility Condition Assessment, our firm evaluated the educational adequacy in each school, such as the availability of subjects and facilities.
After the six-month process, it was shown that there was a significance difference in racially defined districts and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the West Helena school district and mandated a new educational funding formula, which remains in effect today.