WILLIFORD, AR (KAIT) – Patrons of the Twin Rivers School District met with the new state-appointed superintendent of the district Monday night at the gym on the Williford campus. According to Charles Tyler, former president of Twin Rivers School Board, the district will be split into neighboring districts next year.
"They will be split up. Some will go to Maynard. Some will go to Pocahontas, Mammoth Spring, Highland, and Sloan Hendrix. They're going to be going every which a way," said Tyler.
The Arkansas Board of Education voted to take over and split the district earlier this month; however, Tyler said he disagreed with the outcome.
"In my opinion, they're criticizing us for one man," said Tyler. "Nobody is going to convince me that it's fair on what they're doing to us."
Tyler said he discussed an action plan with Dr. Tom Kimbrell with the Arkansas Department of Education.
"He called to verify that David Gilliland turned in his letter of resignation. I told him he had. I asked him, is this going to help? He said yes," said Tyler.
Tyler said the action plan would have allowed Ms. Paulette Crouthers to be Interim Superintendent until the end of the school year. It also asked to combine both 7-12 high school campuses.
"It would save us over $500,000 and he said this is what we want to hear," said Tyler.
Tyler said members of the Arkansas Board of Education didn't look at his action plan during a special meeting on February 8, 2010.
Twin Rivers has been on academic probation since the 2007-2008 year. According to the state's review, the school was not teaching the required 38 core courses each year and would not have allowed three students to graduate. The review also states the district didn't have a professional development plan and one teacher wasn't in compliance with licensing requirements.
"We had a teacher and we had a class available. We just didn't have any students in it," said Tyler.
Former Superintendent David Gilliland resigned Friday, February 5, 2010.
According to an Associated Press article, Gilliland said he didn't supervise the district well enough to improve the district.
"There are things that cannot be fixed. I think there are some that can be. I could have been a better steward," said Gilliland to the AP.
Attempts to reach Gilliland for comment were unsuccessful.
Geography was an issued Tyler discussed and said was difficult to solve.
"When you look at a map at a distance, it doesn't look very far. When you get out and get on the back roads, the gravel roads, it just seems like it takes forever to get somewhere," said Tyler.
Parents said they were surprised to hear about the violations Twin Rivers committed.
"They didn't really know anything at the beginning and as a parent, I didn't either until one day. They both came home and said dad, there were some people from the state looking at the school and are they going to shut us down," said Tony Lowe, who has a junior and freshman in school. "Two weeks ago, I found out the state is coming in and they want to shut the doors and that's when I started doing a lot of research."
Lowe said he found an article on the Arkansas Department of Education's web-site late last year. It discussed the future of Twin Rivers, he said.
"The state said that they were going to send in a team from the board to come in and help the district fix the issues and get us back on the right track," said Lowe
Lowe said the district never had a chance.
"That's got a lot of people wondering why. Is there some kind of agenda? What's motivating them to come in and change their minds like this and decide we're just going to shut the doors? We're not going to try and help you out," said Lowe.
According to Lowe, his main concern is how students will adapt in a new school setting.
"Say you took a kid from Twin Rivers that's making straight A's. You take them away from everyone they know, everything they know and put them in something totally different. Is that kid going to keep that straight A average," said Lowe.
"She was barely passing some of her classes and they called me. I went down there and I sat and talked with them for a couple of hours and they came up with a plan," said Lowe. "My kid, right now, is on the honor roll when a year ago at this time, she was failing her classes. That says a lot about the faculty and the teachers at Williford campus and the Twin Rivers District. They care about the kids. They do not want to see these children fail."