Beebe and a school sham | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beebe and a school sham

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Did Gov. Mike Beebe really encourage the pluperfectly nutty idea that the Weiner school district in Northeast Arkansas and the Delight district hundreds of miles away could administratively merge to avoid consolidation with neighboring school districts and thus preserve their high schools and avoid being polluted by neighborhood  undesirables?

The Weiner superintendent credits a meeting with Beebe for this fine idea. I asked the governor's office if Beebe had proposed or encouraged the idea and, furthermore, if he approved of the strategy.

The short answer, spokesman Matt DeCample said, is no.

DeCample said at the meeting in 2008 Beebe urged school districts that were in danger of falling below 350 students to get ahead of coming consolidations by working with nearby districts to achieve the best possible outcomes. At the time, talks between DeWitt and Gillett were on Beebe's mind, for example. But the idea of districts hundreds of miles apart to consolidate? No, that didn't come up. DeCample said new "logistics" challenges that came with administrative consolidations would have to be considered in weighing such proposals.

You'd think this idea would be a non-starter. But when it comes to scheming school superintendents protecting their little empires, you just never know.

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