LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas Education Board agreed Monday to let two southwest Arkansas school districts merge and voted to keep two other districts under state control due to fiscal problems.
The Bradley School District won approval to be annexed by the Emerson-Taylor School District in southwest Arkansas, a move that addresses Bradley's diminishing enrollment. Bradley had been hovering just above the state minimum of 350 students for a school district to continue operating independently.
Bradley Superintendent Gammye Moore said being annexed by Emerson-Taylor would not result in any school closures. Bradley parent Benny Harris said students in both districts perform well and the "community is 100 percent behind consolidating."
Emerson-Taylor Superintendent Gary Hines said the district's board voted unanimously in favor of taking in the Bradley district. Hines noted the district's hyphenated name and said board members understand the responsibility they're undertaking.
"We've been through this before," Hines said.
Also Monday, the state board voted to keep the Helena-West Helena and Pulaski County school districts under state control due to continuing fiscal distress issues.
The Helena-West Helena district was taken over by the state in 2010, and the Pulaski County district in 2011. The districts' school boards were dissolved when the Education Department took over the districts.
Both districts were credited with making progress but the Education Department said each has remaining issues that need to be resolved. Thus the board voted to keep the districts under state-appointed superintendents for the 2013-2014 school year.
The board voted to let Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell appoint community advisory boards for each of the districts.
The panel also agreed to remove the Drew Central School District from the fiscal distress list. The district spent the 2012-2013 school year under state supervision.