Bill to save Weiner High School fails
House Bill 1938, which could have saved Weiner High School from closure, did not pass. State Representative Randy Alexander's bill would have suspended the reorganization of school districts until 2012 while the Bureau of Legislative Research studies the impact of the state law changes on students.
The bill was voted on twice, failing both times. Greta Greeno, a strong WHS supporter, said the first day it was voted on there was an immediate motion to vote right after the opposition, not giving a chance for response from Representative Alexander. After failing, the bill was brought back on Thursday for reconsideration, when it only failed passing by two votes.
"I believe there were only a number of people who actually voted against it, and then about 30 who did not vote at all," said Greeno.
Greeno is a part of a group called Friends of Weiner School District who have advocated since 2010, when the Weiner District was annexed into the Harrisburg District, to keep the school open. Although the school districts were annexed together, both Harrisburg and Weiner stood independently without consolidation. The closing of WHS was decided after Weiner School District fell short eight students of the state mandated minimum enrollment of 350 two years in a row.
On Monday, March 11, the State Board of Education voted to close Weiner High School after a proposal was submitted by Harrisburg Superintendent Danny Sample. Sample made the suggestion because of financial difficulties the district has faced.
"We are still hopeful for the bill that would make Weiner an agriculture school," said Greeno. "We haven't given up yet."
Republican Representative John Hutchison has a bill, filed on March 11, which would create an Arkansas School for Agriculture for K-12 students. His bill has support from many of the local companies in Weiner considering most of the population in the area is farming. The Agriculture school would offer the same core curriculum as a regular school; it would only offer more agriculture-centered subjects of study.