Temporary injunction halts effort to sell former Redfield school

The White Hall School District’s attempts to sell the former Redfield Middle School have been delayed by a temporary injunction issued by Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Jodi Dennis.

The development occurred Tuesday with the Save Redfield Middle School and Redfield Tri-County Charter School organizations and a number of individuals behind the legal effort. Little Rock attorney Paul Byrd, who attended RMS, is representing the group.

Byrd said his clients’ aim is to save the building, which was constructed by the federal Works Progress Administration in 1939. Byrd said that in addition to being a historic structure, the former school — closed at the end of the 2012-13 academic year — is a cultural and community center and educational “device” worthy of preservation.

Byrd said there is some concern that the former school might otherwise be demolished.

The White Hall School Board voted last month to take bids on the building. A bid opening was scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the district’s Julius Brown Administration Building, but district Superintendent Larry Smith instead said that four received bids would be filed away until a final determination is made in the matter. Smith said he and the board are awaiting instructions from the district’s attorney, Spencer Robinson of Pine Bluff.

Byrd said the temporary injunction is effective for 14 days and a potential hearing on the matter and a possible extension is slated for Jan. 27.

The Redfield City Council voted in February to petition the board to deed the former school to a non-profit group that would utilize the facility as a charter school. But the board decided in December to auction the site at a “fair market value” to a “responsible” bidder who would pay cash. The building was recently assessed at $391,000.

Smith said the facility could not be given away because it’s involved in a current bond issue.

An attempt to establish a charter school in Redfield has failed to gain state approval but organizers say they will continue their efforts.