During the last days of this legislative session, lawmakers are finally taking a step forward when it comes to school funding formulas. But some say they`re taking a court-defying step back at the same time. Today the full house approved Arkansas` first funding formula for school facilities. This step helps complete compliance with the Lakeview school equity verdict which requires that all kids have a substantially equal place in which to learn. The version of the bill passed today still contains a phase-out of state aid to school districts to help with back debt. That`s been the snag in negotiations for weeks, but superintendents say this much-longer phase-out is much better than the original version. While that represents a big victory this late in the session, some believe a vote taken by members of the senate education committee may undo progress made during the 2003-2004 special session on school reform. Back then lawmakers helped get the state out of court by promising to re-evaluate how many state dollars are sent to dsitricts. True needs are supposed to be assessed annually. Critics of an overall funding formula passed in committee today say base funding per student remains at levels set for the 2004 - 2005 school year: $5,400. Plans include only a modest $96 increase for 2005 - 2006. Attorney David Matthews, who won against the state in the adequacy part of the Lakeview verdict, says proposed funding levels represent a broken promise. He says without any interim study about school districts` real needs for the upcoming school year, the state`s funding practices could end up the subject of another lawsuit.