Breaking News

Mena District Considering Restructuring in the Face of Declining Enrollment

BY LEANN DILBECK –

Mena School District Superintendent Benny Weston told The Pulse that the school’s administration is on what he described as a “fact finding” mission to discover the best alternatives for the district’s declining enrollment numbers.

Third quarter average enrollment, which is what the district’s funding is based on, at present day is 1,757 total students.  At this same time one year ago, it was 1,842, a loss of 85 students. The district is funded $6,393 per student so the current loss can translate to a decrease in funding of $543,405.

Weston explained that the district has been turning pre-school students away for years due to space constraints so during a recent leadership meeting, the option of making space available to those students to balance the loss of other students, could according to Weston, “stabilize our enrollment.”

One of the options administration is currently considering is the restructuring of the grades. Weston explained that by moving 2nd grade from Louise Durham to Holly Harshman, three additional fully equipped classrooms could be gained for pre-school age students.  “We have the room at Holly to move 2nd grade into but it would require moving 5th grade over to the Middle School,” said Weston.  “A lot of middle schools are 5th through 8th grade.”

While the district does not receive funding for pre-school students, Weston said the strategy could benefit by promoting retention and future enrollment in the Mena district.

Weston said they are currently polling teachers and seeking their input at this time on this particular option, and will wait to see the results from that before determining their next move.

“When you’re losing enrollment and yet turning students away… and it is something you can fix by making a transition, it’s an option that must be considered.”

He said there was not a timeline in place of when the final determination would be made but said they will continue to seek input in order to identify the best option for the district. The next regularly scheduled Mena School Board meeting is April 22.

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3 comments

  1. The real problem with enrollment is keeping families here in Mena. They have to leave Mena to live. They cannot get a job here, they cannot support a family on wages here in Mena. How about running a story on how the City of Mena doesn’t want more commerce because it believes it would encourage “questionable peoples” to move into the area.

  2. Ok, we’re loosing student and dollars. We get no extra dollars for pre-school students. I assume additional $ will be needed for pre-school classes. Seems to me that math is going backwards.

  3. That is so true Danny. My wife and I have been here for several years but are having to consider leaving because my wife can’t find a job. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education with a Masters degree in counseling. She has applied for jobs from DeQueen to Waldron including many at RMCC. It is extremely frustrating. We love it here. The people are wonderful, the area is beautiful, but we can’t pay the bills.

    No jobs, no family entertainment, the roads are horrible, you have to drive two hours for more complicated medical services…even Queen Wilhelmena Lodge has been closed almost the entire time we’ve been here, and tourism is what is supposed to be big here…

    It’s sad, it’s such a beautiful place.

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