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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas House panel has rejected a proposal to change the criteria for determining when a school district should face consolidation.

By a 5 to 12 vote, the House Education Committee on Tuesday turned down a bill that would change the formula for calculating the number of students in a school district for the purposes of consolidation.

School districts with fewer than 350 students are currently placed on the consolidation list.

Democratic Rep. James Ratliff was proposing to include home-schooled students in that count. He said the bill would help prevent rural school districts with low student populations from being consolidated.

Opponents argued that allowing school districts to have fewer than 350 students would create funding challenges and could expose the state to lawsuits about the adequacy of education.

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