Senate considers consolidation

(October 31, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Some members of the state Senate are considering a school reform proposal that would consolidate high schools in districts with fewer than 500 students. The proposal is a compromise alternative to a plan offered by Governor Huckabee setting minimum enrollment at 425 students. Huckabee's version would let schools under that number continue to operate is they meet academic standards affordably. Supporters of the Senate plan say it likely would not let schools below the minimum enrollment continue to operate. The goal of consolidation is to reduce the number of small high schools in the state to achieve economies of scale. It can be accomplished by setting a minimum high school size or, alternatively, a minimum size for entire school districts. Senator Brenda Gullett says she supports a 500-student minimum, which would affect about 99 school districts.