The Little Rock (Arkansas) school board has voted to combine two of its high schools beginning in 2024-25.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports the West High School of Innovation will merge with the Hall STEAM Magnet High School on Hall's midtown campus.
Superintendent Jermall Wright says the district can't afford to support two small high schools. The plan to merge the special-program schools -- one with an enrollment of 270 and the other with 307 students -- reduces the district's five campuses to four -- at least until the construction of a 1,200-seat high school in the northwest part of the city is completed by 2026.
The district's other high schools -- Central, Parkview and Southwest -- have enrollments ranging from 1,000 to 2,200 students.
Wright also called the merger plan a "lifeline" for Hall High, which has been struggling in recent years to develop programs in arts and sciences.
The high school merger decision comes at a time when the 19,952-student district is facing $15 million in budget cuts for next year as the result of declining enrollment and increased debt service payments.
The board made the decision on combining the two schools at a session Thursday in which it also heard from state Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, and former
The school campus merger also comes as the district is in the early stages of building the new high school on the same Ranch Drive site as the West School of Innovation.
"I know that there are awesome things happening at both institutions, at West High School of Innovation and at Hall," Wright said. "This could give us the opportunity to create that one small high school in our district that I think we can fiscally support -- if we can get the number to at least 500 kids."
Parents and teachers affiliated with the innovation school asked that it be preserved.