Rural Parents in Arkansas Sue Over Consolidation

Last Updated: July 18, 2009

This article appeared in the July 2009 Rural Policy Matters.

Parents of elementary and secondary students at Fourche Valley School in Arkansas are asking a circuit court judge to block the consolidation of their school and claim that some students will be required to ride a bus four hours a day. Attorneys representing the parents said the travel time will be excessive and violates the students’ right to an adequate education.
The Fourche Valley school district was forced to consolidate into the Two Rivers school district as a result of the state’s Act 60, which requires all districts to enroll at least 350 students. Since Act 60 was implemented in 2003, dozens of rural districts have been dissolved and a majority of their schools have been closed or had their grade span reduced.
The Two Rivers school district says the school closure will save money.
Fourche Valley’s attorney argues that the state’s flat $286 per student annual transportation allocation is unfair to rural districts and that until the state determines how much time on a bus is too much for students it should call a moratorium on the closing of isolated rural schools.
Read more from the July 2009 Rural Policy Matters.