The following article was submitted by a local resident…
I attended a formal meeting of the Arkansas Department of Education and students, parents, patrons and interested persons concerning the future of the Twin Rivers School District ( Formerly Williford and Oak Ridge Central School Districts).
This was not a fact finding meeting because the decision to disolve the district had already been made and according to Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Commissioner of Education, was final, irreversable and not subject to appeal. It was not a meeting where the remaining staff of the district could offer solutions to any problems the Department or State Board of Education had with the district. Staff, students, parents and past graduates did offer proposals and made emotional pleas to keep the district open but the ADE, State Board of Education and Commissioner Kimbrell were not receptive to anything from the students, parents, staff or others in the crowd of almost 500. July 1 the students will be dispersed to 5 and possibly 6 districts surrounding the Twin Rivers District.
There were no explanation given as to what would happen to the buildings, buses or school property. The land within the District would be divided up among the surrounding districts for taxing purposes. Memorabilia, Senior Composite pictures, Trophies would be maintained at different locations. It was unclear where past records would be kept, whether one or two locations or dispersed among the surrounding schools.
My personal opinion of this Educational and personal tragedy is that it is a result of people who are not directly affected by educational decisions being the ones who are making the decisions. It is another victory for those who believe that bigger is better in everything and that only schools with 350 students can provide excellent educational opportunities. It is centralization of services in it’s worst form and I believe will lead to a total destruction of rural life and services. Eventually not only will there be no more small schools in isolated areas of Arkansas, there will be no people, no family farms, no services like mail service, police, ambulance, fire protection, stores, nothing except possibly large cooperations and businesses owning the land, where for survival people will have to live in larger communities in order to get any services.
People in this area live in the country because they want to, not because they are forced to and while many people like urban areas, large schools, crowds of people, malls and sidewalks, others prefer a rural exsistance, they don’t mind distance and the children thrive in an educational enviroment that emphasizes the individual and not the large group.
This is a step in the destruction of a way of life not just the elimination of a couple of small schools. We are all responsible for this happening, we have become complacent, and allowed other people to control our way of life, we have not asked enough questions till it’s too late, accepted the decisions of politicians and beaurocrats that are too far removed from the people. If we are to reverse this trend we must take control of our future by voting people into positions of authority who represent our values and ideas and will allow us to have the local control essential in so many of the services that are critical to our way of life.
Imboden Live would like to thank Mike Mcleod for his commentary on the demise of the Twin Rivers School District.