FORREST CITY, Ark. — A technical institute in eastern Arkansas has merged with a neighboring community college.

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board voted Monday in favor of merging Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute and East Arkansas Community College, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

The Forrest City schools have operated independently alongside each other for decades.

Higher Education Department Deputy Director Tara Smith said the Higher Education Coordinating Board’s decision was the final step in the approval process to join the schools. The Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency, must accredit the combined campus.

She said students and employees will see few changes, at least for the first year, and that it’s too soon to determine the cost per credit hour of the combined school as the reorganization will take time.

“I think the expectation is that it will be minimal change and from what I understand, it will be minimal job loss,” Smith said.

The East Arkansas’ board also voted in favor of the merger, which abolished the Crowley’s Ridge board of trustees. East Arkansas Community College has assumed the institute’s powers and duties.

The technical institute resisted attempts to bring the two colleges together since 1991. But in a special meeting last week, the institute’s board of trustees voted 3-2 in favor of joining the schools.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently appointed all three members who voted in favor of the merger.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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