It is estimated that 80% of Mingo County residents are opposed to the consolidation of three high schools.

Their newly elected school board voted this week to freeze the consolidation movement, but the State Board of Education voted yesterday to approve the plan, essentially overriding the county decision.

"They have a constitutional battle on their hands," said Johnny Branch, a Mingo school teacher and minister, who told the Hur Herald he favors community-based schools. "How can they take over a democratic process and decisions made by local school boards and local voters?" he asked.

Mingo County Board President William Duty cited unanswered questions, saying that funding for the new school falls far short of building a complete high school facility.

Nevertheless, the State Board of Education approved the CEFP plan in yesterday's meeting, ignoring Mr. Duty's address before the committee.

The Mingo consolidation plan was approved last month by the local board, but board members were replaced by residents who ran on anti-consolidation plans.

Branch said Mingo County citizens will stay the course, "battling for small community-based schools."