Consolidation Deadline Draws Near for Some Region 8 Schools

March 15, 2004 -- Posted 6:00 p.m. CST

Biggers, AR -- Time is ticking for some Region 8 schools to merge their administrations together.

Each district with an enrollment of less than 350 has until April 1st to deliver a consolidation proposal to the State Board of Education. If a proposal is not drafted by that date, the state will do it themselves.

Biggers-Reyno School Superintendent J.M. Edington is preparing for an important meeting this evening with patrons in the community. At issue: the school district must decide with whom they will consolidate. Edington says plans change almost hourly.

"I know our patrons well enough to know that they're going to take the cards they've been dealt and they're going to make the best of it for our kids," said Edington.

Negotiations started a few weeks ago with the Delaplaine school district. Biggers felt it would be a good merger, because Delaplaine is also forced to consolidate. However, at the last minute, Edington says the two school boards couldn't agree on some issues, and Delaplaine wanted to annex Biggers.

"It just seemed to be a matter that if we couldn't come to an agreement up front, then we weren't sure that we could build the kind of trust that we needed," said Edington.

Next came a meeting with Maynard.

With a population of about 500 students, this district does not have to consolidate now, but a merger with Biggers could possibly make them safe from it in the future. Edington says Maynard seemed interested at first.

"It was their decision not to pursue it at this time and that's their decision to make," said Edington.

After breaking off negotiations with Delaplaine and Maynard, Biggers-Reyno is hoping to merge with Corning. But if that happens, Biggers-Reyno High School will likely go away.

"That is the thing that causes the most pain to the Biggers-Reyno patrons is that eventually we will not have a high school here," said Edington.