LITTLE ROCK, AR -- DeWitt Superintendent Gary Wayman told state education board members Monday that in order to balance the budget, Gillett Elementary School needs to close.
The district recommended sending the students to DeWitt Elementary, which is much more modern. It could save the district about $250,000 a year.
"We're talking about increasing our elementary grades by 74 kids spread out over five grades. We're not talking about much increase at all," Wayman said.
But Gillett town leaders and parents oppose the closure, pointing to the school's benchmark scores. Many times it surpasses DeWitt Elementary's scores, as one of the best in the state.
Plus, they like the small class sizes.
"All children should have the right to the best possible education in the school that will cater to their needs, not the needs of the administration," Gillett Mayor Jared Holzhauer said.
And as a show of committment, school supporters pledged $68,000 toward an escrow account as long as the doors stayed open.
"If there's anything that GES is lacking, it will be purchased privately because we put our money where our mouth is," Holzhauer said.
When it came to the vote, board members agreed to keep the school open.
Much to the superintendent's surprise.
"I don't know how they can expect our district to stay financially sound," Wayman said.