Opponents to Consolidation Making their Voice Heard

January 24, 2003
Posted at: 2:40 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Opponents of school district consolidation are making their cases to legislators. Opponents say numbers alone shouldn't be the standard that determines which districts get to survive.

Organizations representing thousands of Arkansas teachers and hundreds of school administrators and board members made that point yesterday. Governor Huckabee has proposed making districts with fewer than 1,500 students subject to consolidation, as part of his package to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to devise a school-funding system that is both fair and adequate.

Groups representing superintendents and school board members also strongly opposed the state taking local decision-making authority. Huckabee has said that the court ruling that struck down the state's school-funding formula effectively ended local control of schools.

In separate position statements, the organizations acknowledged that school consolidation may be necessary for the state to comply with a court order to provide equal educational opportunities for all of the state's 450,000 public school children.

But, they said districts should be given the chance to meet higher standards and consolidate only if they fail.