Black Rock and Walnut Ridge to Consolidate

February 22, 2006 -- Posted at 10:00 P.M. CST

BLACK ROCK, AR -- Another small Region 8 community is affected by the state-mandated consolidation. Walnut Ridge voted last night to accept Black Rock and merge into one school district.

Black Rock just doesn't have enough kids. They can't keep their total student number above the state mandated 350 so, they decided to consolidate voluntarily before the state forced them too. This way, they got to pick who they wanted. The school board wanted opinions from the community.

"We tried to get as much input from the public to make this decision as we could. Which I felt like its gonna be something that's gonna affect everyone, its gonna affect everyone in the future," says David Foley, Black Rock Superintendent.

They had 3 schools interested...Hoxie, Sloan-Hendrix, and Walnut Ridge. The school board took a vote from the faculty, students, and the community. Walnut Ridge won the vote and the school board's decision was made from there, reaching a final 3 to 2 vote.

"I think its ok, I mean I figured we would've been better the way we were, but I mean if its gotta happen, its gotta happen. And I'm glad they picked Walnut Ridge as the school," says Cheyenne Webster, Black Rock student.

The last step...Walnut Ridge's school board had to accept the offer to merge and Tuesday night, it became official.

Black Rock and Walnut Ridge would make an administrative consolidation...merging into one school district. Meaning, Black Rock gets to keep it's school.

"It's kinda of a win-win situation for us, for our students who are going to be able to do

some things possibly, extracurricular activities that they're going to be able to get involved with that we don't have here. And still have the same small atmosphere and the same good quality of education that we have provided," says David Foley, Black Rock Superintendent.

Although they say this is an administrative consolidation, meaning both schools will remain in operation under one school district. Students say they still have their concerns.

"I have a fear, it's making new friends, having to make new friends and stuff...that's practically everybody's most fear," says Heather Bryant, Black Rock Student.

"I didn't really want to consolidate...I thought we were fine the way we were," says Michael St. Cin, Black Rock Student.

The next step is the creation of an interim school board by May 31st. The consolidation between the two schools becomes effective July 1, 2006.