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An Arkansas School District has been given a lifeline thanks to the Arkansas LEARNS Act.

The Marvell-Elaine school district was set to be consolidated due to having the lowest performance grade possible for a school and a current law requiring a school with less than 350 students for two consecutive years to consolidate.

However, the LEARNS Act includes a provision for schools to enter a transformation contract, allowing low-performing schools to become a transformation campus by contracting a third party to run the school.

The Marvell-Elaine school district will be the first in the state to attempt the transformative contract, with plans to transition control next school year.

The Department of Education has said that there are already three potential partners interested.

State representative Mark McElroy, who represents Phillips County, has seen the effects of consolidation on small town Arkansas and passed legislation exempting schools with less than 350 children from consolidation if any child has to travel more than 40 miles by bus.

The LEARNS Act provides hope for smaller underperforming districts and could potentially save many small schools from consolidation.

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