Failing District In Foundation Survey Among Four Arkansas Districts That Face Restructuring

"The General Assembly should enact legislation which restructures ... Arkansas' existing 311 school districts into not more than 134 "administrative units" where an administrative unit is defined as "one superintendent and an associated superintendent's staff." (Murphy Commission, "Streamlining and Cost-Saving Opportunities in Arkansas' K-12 Public Education System," September 1998)

(May 2009) The Turrell School District was named a failing district in a 2008 Policy Foundation survey of Arkansas school districts, and faces restructuring next year, according to education officials1.

Turrell was among 14 districts that received a failing ('F' grade) in the Foundation report, which relies on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) to issue a letter grade to every Arkansas district. The report examined student performance in the 2006-2007 school year. Turrell earned a D-minus grade in an earlier Foundation report that examined the 2004-2005 school year.

The National Office for Research, Measurement and Evaluation Systems (NORMES) reported an 80 percent college remediation rate for Turrell in 2007. The Arkansas remediation rate was 48.1 percent.

Administrative Restructuring, Not Consolidation

Sixty-seven Arkansas districts have been annexed or consolidated under 2003 legislation that requires action when enrollment is less than 350 students in consecutive years. Turrell is among four additional districts that face consolidation under the measure. The others are Weiner, awarded a 'B' grade in the Foundation report; and Cushman and Delight, which earned 'C' grades.

The Foundation proposed administrative restructuring in the districts in 1998. The proposal would have allowed schools to keep their mascots, football and basketball teams and long-standing rivalries with other schools. Rural administrators opposed the Foundation proposal, and face further consolidation under the 2003 act as student counts decline.

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