LITTLE ROCK — The state Board of Education voted Monday to allow the Harrisburg School District to close Weiner High School in northeastern Arkansas and transfer its students to Harrisburg High School.
The Weiner district was annexed to the Harrisburg district in 2010 after its enrollment dropped below 350 students. The Harrisburg School Board voted in December to close the Weiner High School campus, which serves students in grades 7-12.
Because the vote was not unanimous, the district was required by state law to obtain approval from the state Board of Education before closing the campus.
Harrisburg Superintendent Danny Sample told the state board Monday that the district is spending more to keep the Weiner campus open than it is collecting in revenues attributable to the campus, which has seen enrollment dwindle to 134 students.
He also said that the students now attending Weiner High School would have access to increased educational opportunities on the Harrisburg High School campus.
"Our goal is for student success for every child in the Harrisburg School District," he said.
Testifying against the petition, Ray Keller of Jonesboro, who grew up in Weiner and still farms there, said Weiner High School has a stronger record of academic success than Harrisburg High School. He acknowledged that enrollment has declined on the Weiner campus, but he attributed the decline to uncertainty about the school’s future.
"That uncertainty has created the need for some parents to think they should move their kids to another district. I’m totally convinced that if we give some stability and that if Superintendent Sample will begin to support that campus, I believe those people will come back," he said.
The board approved the district’s request in a 5-2 vote. The closure will not affect Weiner Elementary School, which will remain open.
Also Monday, the board voted to allow the Bauxite School District to create a conversion charter school, or a charter school operated by the district. The school will be known as Miner Academy and will serve students in grades 6-12 with an enrollment cap of 200 students.
The board also voted to renew the charter of eSTEM Public Charter High School in Little Rock for 10 years and to allow the open-enrollment charter school to merge with eSTEM Public Charter Middle School and eSTEM Public Charter Elementary School so that all three will operate on a single charter.
The school had asked for a 13-year renewal.
The board granted a request by KIPP Delta Public Schools, an open enrollment charter school with campuses in Helena-West Helena and Blytheville, to renew its charter for 10 years. The school serves students in grades K-12.
The board voted to renew the charter of LISA Academy North Little Rock, an open-enrollment charter school in Sherwood, for five years and to increase its enrollment cap from 500 to 700 students. The school had asked for a 20-year renewal.