Rural Schools Gearing Up for Lawsuit over Consolidation

February 12, 2004 - Posted at 7:41 a.m. CDT

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - A group of rural school districts is ready to go to court to block consolidation.

The 30 small Arkansas districts have given notice they intend to file by April 1 for a federal injunction.  The districts want to stop the state plan that would consolidate the administrations of 57 of Arkansas' smallest school districts.

The Legislature targeted those districts with fewer than 350 students in response to a state Supreme Court order in 2002.  The high court declared Arkansas' school-funding unconstitutional.

Arkansas Rural Education Association President Jimmy Cunningham argues that combining the smaller districts unfairly takes control away from local communities.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)