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Redfield plea falls on deaf ears

The Keep Redfield Middle School Task Force received no encouragement from state Board of Education Monday when asked to intervene in the White Hall School Board’s decision to close the school.
Ronald Meredith, task force vice chairman, received no response from the state board meeting at Little Rock.
The White Hall board voted 4-2 Jan. 8 to close the Redfield school at the end of the current school year and transfer enrollment to White Hall Middle School.

The Redfield school and students are meeting state standards, Meredith told the state board, adding “it would be best to leave them where they are.”

The task force has asked the state board to override the White Hall board’s closure decision or authorize Redfield to establish a separate school district. The former Redfield School District was dissolved in 1949 under a state law and merged with the White Hall district the following year.
State officials are limited on their intervention with local school decisions, Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell has said repeatedly in the past.
Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith estimated the proposed annual savings on personnel and operating costs by closing Redfield Middle School range from $382,000 to $412,000.
Smith recommended that Redfield Middle School be closed in June and its 122 students transferred to White Hall Middle School, which has about 615 students. Both schools have sixth- through eighth-grade classes.
Smith has cited a state facilities survey of the Redfield school reflecting a number of shortcomings.
White Hall’s proposed facilities plan calls for construction of a performing arts center and a multipurpose facility for band and athletics at White Hall High School, Meredith emphasized.
The ad hoc task force and two members of the White Hall board who reside in Redfield asked White Hall directors earlier this month to keep the Redfield school open for another year.
“You guys are making a severe mistake,” Todd Dobbins, who has chaired the Redfield task force, told the district directors the 4-2 vote.
Dobbins maintained vote was a racial issue, saying the board wanted White Hall Middle School at capacity if the state Department of Education ordered the Dollarway School District merged with the White Hall district.

Redfield Middle School supporters contend residential developments and potential economic projects in Redfield will add enrollment to the White Hall district.