Little red schoolhouse
Of the 13,163 local school districts in the United States in the 2006-07 school year, 5,771 enrolled fewer than 1,000 students. Of those, 764 districts enrolled fewer than 100 students. The statistics are from the Rural School and Community Trust, an advocacy group. The Arkansas Times obtained comparable statistics for Arkansas schools from the state Education Department. It should be no surprise that Arkansas, a rural state, has a higher percentage of small schools than does the nation as a whole. In the current school year, Arkansas has 266 school districts; a little more than half of those, 143, have enrollments of less than 1,000. Although Arkansas law sets a minimum enrollment of 350, a few schools have less than that legally. These include the state schools for the blind and the deaf, and charter schools exempt from certain requirements.
Best of the blogs
If we don't toot our own horn, who will?
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, who writes The Fix, a political blog, sought nominations from readers on the best political blogs in the 50 states. He posted the results last week and it will remain on-line as a source for political junkies.
Three political blogs in Arkansas made the list: The Arkansas Blog (that's our blog, which you find right at the top of our home page every day, arktimes.com); the Arkansas Project, the work of former Asa Hutchinson campaigner and consultant David Kinkade, and Blake's Think Tank, by PR man Blake Rutherford. The last two are at thearkansasproject.com and blakesthinktank.com.
Could the University of Central Arkansas's financial and other problems force a re-examination of UCA's move upward in college athletics? Well … Jack Gillean, vice president of administrative affairs and a member of the committee seeking a new president at UCA, told the Conway Log Cabin Democrat that the committee would ask presidential candidates about a number of issues, including “a move to Division I athletics.” But it was a couple of years ago, during the Lu Hardin administration, that UCA moved up from Division II, away from its old in-state rivals (Tech, SAU, HSU, UAM, Ouachita, Harding). Asked to elaborate, Gillean told the Times, “There has been a great deal of concern about the cost of moving to Division I. I do not mean to suggest that the matter will be reconsidered, but under our current budget constraints, the cost remains an issue. It will be an issue that the next president will have to address.” Much of the concern about the cost of Division I athletics has come from members of the faculty. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported recently that UCA had violated state law by transferring more state funds to athletics than legally allowed during the last two fiscal years.