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For the third consecutive year, the Strong-Huttig School District received a waiver to allow the schools to continue with fewer than 350 students districtwide from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE).

The district went below the 350 students required by the state in the 2014-15 school year when enrollment dropped to 335 students, according to records on MySchoolInfo, and has been steadily declining since. The Strong-Huttig School District is one of four in the state that have less than 350 students.

The district petitioned the ADE for this waiver starting in 2015 and has to renew the petition annually. For the 2018-19 school year, the district has 282 students.

Ark. Code Annotated 6-13-1603 requires the District to be consolidated with or annexed to another school district unless the State Board grants the District’s petition for a minimum school district size waiver pursuant to the code.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, to receive the waiver, district leaders must assure the ADE that the school district is not in academic, financial or facility distress, nor is it on probation for violating state accreditation standards.

Because the state board deemed that the Strong-Huttig School District met its requirements, it will not be consolidated and will continue to function as its own district.

“The Strong-Huttig School District appreciates the consideration by the State Board of Education on our petition to continue to operate with the district under 350 students,” Superintendent Jeff Alphin said in an email to the News-Times. “We did expect the board to decide in favor since we meet all the criteria in Arkansas Code 6-13-1613 that states the district shall not be in academic, fiscal, or facilities distress. Our faculty and staff will continue to strive to provide the best possible education and learning environment for our students.”

Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or mshine@eldoradonews.com. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.

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