When a Community Loses Its Schools

In Education On

Curator note:This article is important for two reasons. First it is a good example of how important schools are to community cohesion and to the lives of children, mostly in rural areas. The State of Arkansas is in a difficult position — balancing the need to be fiscally responsible with the needs of a community. Tough decisions for everyone. However, the second reason is that we can predict that policies to dismantle, or weaken, the public school system will be very harmful to American citizens, often in rural communities. To the extent that we allow public schools to be further weakened by school choice/vouchers, we are also enabling community disintegration and lack of education opportunity in rural areas.


 When a Community Loses Its Schools

Hughes elementary and secondary schools closed at the end of the 2014-15 school year, when the Arkansas education department mandated that the district consolidate with West Memphis because its average daily attendance had fallen below 350 students—a threshold set by a 2004 law known as Act 60. It requires districts that enroll fewer than 350 students for two consecutive years to consolidate or annex with another school system.

Hughes’ former schools are among the hundreds of schools nationwide that close for a variety of reasons. But research suggests that such closures sometimes have a disparate—and disruptive—effect on communities.


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