The House this afternoon failed to pass Rep. Jon Hubbard's bill to end consolidation of school districts solely because they fall below 350-student enrollment. The vote was 50-33, with 51 needed for passage. He'd add financial stability and education performance as standards. Education Department officials and the governor's office oppose the bill because it flies in the face of the Lakeview school decision on equal and sufficient education.
Hubbard pleaded for preserving schools to hold small communities together. "When the school goes, the community dies," he said. He said he was motivated by the consolidation of the Weiner district. Rep. Buddy Lovell of Marked Tree, who'd pushed legislation to save Weiner in an earlier session, opposed the bill. He said he'd learned much about the law and funding formula since then. Most speakers favored the legislation. Rep. Kim Hammer noted that the legislature had allowed charter schools — essentially independent school districts — with enrollment below 350.
The bill, should it get another vote and pass, faces likely death in the Senate Education Committee.