STRONG, Ark. — A school district in Union County has become the first school district in Arkansas to receive a waiver from a state law requiring a minimum enrollment of 350 students.

The Arkansas Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to give the 311-student Strong-Huttig School District the waiver, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ( ).

Strong-Huttig superintendent Jeff Alphin requested the waiver, telling the board that the district meets the necessary legal requirements.

“Our small community wants to continue to contribute,” Alphin said, adding that the district has a strong record of graduates who went on to successful careers. “As long as the school district is viable, we want to keep it open.”

To receive the waiver, school district leaders must show the education board that the district is not in academic, financial or facility distress.

The act that allowed the waiver to be given was passed in partial response to a state Supreme Court decision that found the state public education system inadequate and unconstitutional. The act has been responsible for multiple school district consolidations.

The school district, which was formed by the consolidation of the Strong and Huttig districts in 2006, is projected to continue to see a decrease in enrollment numbers in the coming years. The district’s projected enrollment for the 2025-26 school year is 224.

In the same meeting it approved the Union County waiver, the education board also approved waivers of some state laws and rules for the Hope and Kirby school districts.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,