LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) – The future of Weiner High School becameclear this week.
The State Board of Education agreed Monday morning to closethe school after a lengthy debate between Harrisburg School District officialsand Weiner High School supporters.
The state board members voted 5 to 2 in favor of a proposalsubmitted by Harrisburg Superintendent Danny Sample to close the high school,effective July 1.
The decision disappointed Weiner school supporters, who havevowed that the fight to keep their school open is far from over.
"We're disappointed, but we don't give up the fight here,"said Michelle Cadle, a vocal WHS supporter. "This is what we call round one."
Cadle and other supporters are now counting on a new pieceof legislation that they say would void the state board's decision to closetheir school.
"I think if you took 12 people off the street, and theyheard the testimony that was presented [by Weiner] today – it would take themabout 30 seconds to make what I think is a no-brainer decision," said StateRep. Randy Alexander of Springdale.
Alexander, a Republican, filed House Bill 1938 last Fridayon behalf of Weiner High School. The legislation would halt any campuses frommerging for two years until further study is given to the effects of Act 60,which requires all schools with 350 students or less – like Weiner – to beconsolidated or annexed.
The Weiner district was annexed into the Harrisburg SchoolDistrict in 2010 after its enrollment dipped below 350 students.
"I hope that we get this bill passed, that we put a stop toit," Alexander said, "and we take the time to really evaluate what the impactof Act 60 has been overall, which this board has not done and make a decisionbased on facts."
"We want everyone to contact their representatives," Cadle said."There are about 17 schools that are coming up on the Act 60 list, and thereare a multitude of legislators that need to be contacted to get this billpassed.
"This will benefit Weiner," she added, "because it will beretroactive to January 1, and that would void the board's decision today [toclose Weiner High School]."
With the bill pending, Harrisburg Superintendent DannySample says the district will now begin preparing to house the seventh through12th grade students from Weiner and hopefully mend fences.
"We have to learn how not to be reactionary," he said, "buthave the best interests of all those young people [in mind] right now and inthe future to come. I think that will take some time, but we will make ithappen."
Sample sought approval to close Weiner High School to notonly save the district money but also provide students with more academicopportunities.
The Harrisburg School District will allow Weiner students inkindergarten through sixth grade to remain at the Weiner Elementary Schoolcampus for at least a year, as school officials oversee finances.
"I know the Weiner communityas well as the Harrisburg community wants what is best for all schools," headded, "and we're going to try to make the best of this decision."