January 15, 2003
Posted at: 8:47 p.m. CDT
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. -- For years, Walnut Ridge and Hoxie have been rivals on the atheltic fields. However, if the plan for school consolidation offered up by Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee holds up in the legislature, students from both schools could be playing on the same team.
On Tuesday, Huckabee called for a reduction in the number of school districts inside the state of Arkansas from the current level of 310 to somwhere between 107-116 school districts. One of the thresholds in his plan was a student population, K-12, of 1,500 students.
Ryan Cole is a student at Walnut Ridge, student population 760, and he says even though he and the rest of his classmates may have to give up their mascot and other things that identify them. He says it's worth it to get a better education.
"Oh, I agree with it tremendously because I think it is way past due," Cole said. "Like our foreign language, we're only allowed to have one foreign language.
"I mean if we have more students that would be more tax payers money coming into the schools therefore we could afford to have much more school subjects and everything so we have more of a variety and more educational fields to go out into to," Cole added.
Jessica Fry is one of the high school students that comprise Hoxie's 992 overall students. She says she and most of her friends feel pretty much the same as Ryan.
"I've been going here since kindergarten," Fry said. "So I think it would be kind of neat to interact with more people and stuff like that."
The students at both schools aren't the only ones who agree. Both principals at Wlanut Ridge and Hoxie high schools agree on consolidation, they both think it is a bad thing.
"At this point, I don't think consolidation is a good thing for the Hoxie school district," said principal Tim Gardner. "We're still in good shape financially."