Redfield task force pleads with State Board

The Task Force to Keep Redfield Middle School spoke to the Arkansas Department of Education to ask the State Board to intervene.
The Task Force to Keep Redfield Middle School spoke to the Arkansas Department of Education to ask the State Board to intervene.

The White Hall School Board voted last week to close Redfield Middle School, but the community wants to keep it open and reinstate their own school district.

The task force waited for 6 hours to get 3 minutes of time to speak to the board. Their hope is the Arkansas Department of Education will stop the closure of Redfield Middle School and help them get their own district back.

Ron Meredith is a member of the task force and says, "Our children should be put first."

Meredith spoke to the State Board on behalf of the Task Force to Keep Redfield Middle School, pleading for intervention, and to explore the reinstatement of the Redfield School District, separate from White Hall.

The White Hall School Board voted to shut down Redfield Middle School at the end of this school year due to budget constraints.

Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell says, "We see this issue come up quite a bit and it is an emotional issue. It's a difficult issue to deal with as a community."

Meredith says the task force feels it would be in the best interest of the children to leave them where they are. Busing the students to White Hall, 13 miles away, Meredith says would stifle a growing community, and negatively impacts the local economy.

The task force says parents are worried their achieving students would fall behind in a district the state deems as needing improvement. "The scores speak for themselves."

But the State Board could only listen to the passionate pleas of the Redfield parents. Dr. Kimbrell isn't sure there is a next step for the task force. "The State Board has no authority when it comes to local decision making and closing schools."

Dr. Kimbrell says to separate from the White Hall school district the local school board would have to vote on it. "I'm not so sure, and I'll have to ask my legal counsel if there's any other avenues or options for the task force."

But Meredith says the Redfield community feels like the closing of the middle school will drive a stake in the heart of the town. "Give us our old district back."

White Hall Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith says the decision of the school board made last week stands. Dr. Smith says the district is moving forward, and as far as he's concerned, the school board's decision is final.

The task force's next move is to seek legal counsel. Meredith says they won't give up the fight.
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