Students From Two School Campuses Prepare to Move to One

MELBOURNE, AR -- Under Act 60 in 2003 there was annexation or consolidation of schools of 350 students or less.  At the time the Mount Pleasant School District became one with Melbourne.  After four years, some of those students will be learning together.

When the two current high schools combine into one campus they're not going to be able to keep all of the teachers.

"It's a move to allow us to offer more classes, upgrade our curriculum, and still balance our budget," said Superintendent Gerald Cooper.

But it's a move that's made many teachers and students anxious about the future.

"We want what's best for our students.  We obviously love kids and love teaching or this wouldn't be the field we're in.  I think it's a wait and see and hope for the best," said teacher Karen Smith.

"I know some teachers that just started here that possibly could lose their job that I love.  If I don't get to have the teachers that I'm used to it's going to be sad," said Sadie Price.

The Melbourne School District has 74 certified teachers and Superintendent Gerald Cooper said he's not sure how many will be coming back next year.

"As far as being able to put a number on it at this time I wouldn't put a number on it because we're still in that process," said Cooper.

To be fair, there are several levels of criteria they'll look at to determine who will stay and who will go.  Some of those are seniority, the areas of certification, advanced degrees, and teacher evaluations.

Regardless, they hope to come to a solution soon.

"I think some would prefer the bad news before Christmas and some after, but in reality it will be determined by how quickly the legal process can be worked through to see who has a legal right to the positions," said Cooper.

The two current high school campuses will be closing at the end of the school year.

"This will no longer be a 7th through 12th campus and Mount Pleasant will no longer be a 7th through 12th campus.  We're moving both of those campuses to the new building," said Cooper.

"I'm excited because everyday when we drive by it's huge.  It's such a big school," said Price.

While the students are going to have more advances academically the move is bittersweet for the teachers.

"It's really sad for us at Mount Pleasant because we love the small community, we love the small schools and so it's heartbreaking to lose what we had," said Smith.

The new building is a 13.1 million dollar facility.  It is expected to open for service by next fall.