Will administrative school consolidation work for Region 8? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Will administrative school consolidation work for Region 8?

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) -Anytime the word consolidation is used it brings out strong opinions in residents.  Now Arkansas lawmakers are considering a bill that will administratively consolidate schools on a county wide basis.

While the 1,000 student Piggott School District hasn't dealt with consolidation, Superintendent Ed Winberry said he knows the effects it can have.

"Biggers-Reyno went in with Corning, Knobel went in with Corning now we're just down to three schools," said Winberry.

Winberry said of the three, Piggott is the second largest district in the county.  If senate bill 734 passes there will be just one county wide school district.  It calls for cutting the state's 239 districts down to just 75.  There would be one school district for each county, served by one superintendent and one school board.

"It's all about money.  They think they can save money by consolidating certain things," said Winberry.

Winberry believes the bill needs a closer look.

"I'm against it and I think the people in this community, the people in the Corning community would be and the people in the Rector community would be," said Winberry.

He also doesn't believe it is right for students.

"They say, well, the schools won't close you won't close or anything like that but I think it's a pre-runner to putting it all together," said Winberry.

And if consolidation were to be in the future, he said it would affect more than just students and teachers.  He said it would affect the community financially.  Each school has individual debt and different school millage rates.

"The financial situation or the financial ramifications that it could set off and we have to have tax money," said Winberry.

Senator Ruth Whitaker of Cedarville presented the bill.  It has gone through two readings and has been turned over the senate committee on education.  We tried to make contact with Senator Whitaker, but the legislature was in session today and she wasn't available.

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