Town of 400 risks losing its only school despite Blue-Ribbon status

State News

KINGSLAND, Ark. – Despite earning a Blue-Ribbon status for excellence in education in 2018, the Kingsland Elementary School sits in jeopardy of shutting down due to declining enrollment, according to district officials.

The Cleveland County School Board voted 6-1 on Monday to close the school, but because the vote was not unanimous, it’s not a done deal yet. The State Board of Education will now decide the school’s fate at a meeting in May.

“Just look at the students; the education that is being provided there,” Pat Neal says.

Neal has lived in Kingsland for 65 years. She fears losing the school could be the beginning of the end for her beloved town.

“You know, the few things that we do have here will probably dwindle.”

Cleveland County Schools Superintendent Craig Dupuy says the district is in a tough spot.

According to Dupuy, 832 kids are enrolled in the district this year, but 10-year projections show a decline of nearly 200. Between the two elementary schools — Kingsland and Rison — Rison boasts an enrollment more than three times its sister school. And, with a mandated teacher salary increase coming soon, teacher pay-per-student costs almost double at Kingsland compared to Rison.

Neal has heard those same stats, but she wants a more extensive study done.

She doesn’t want to see her city fade behind its overgrown neighbors.

District officials say if Kingsland Elementary does close, those students would be transferred over to Rison Elementary.

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