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Biggest Charter School Lies Debunked

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Thursday, August 24, 2017
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2017

Several big whoppers are regularly told regarding open-enrollment public charter schools. The conversation generally goes like this, "I'm not against charter schools, but...

School/District  Enrollment  SPED  FRL  White  Hispanic Black  Other  Minority 
 LRSD  22,567  12%  71%  18%  14%  64%  4%  82%
 All LR Charters  4,244  7% (295)  50% (2,106) 23% (982)  15% (647)  53% (2,253)  8% (354)  77% (3,270)
 eStem  1,462

8% (117)

 30% (439)
 40% (585)  6% (88)  47% (687)  6% (88)  60% (877)
 LISA Academy Chenal  356  5% (18)  35% (125)  20% (71)  16% (57)  38% (145)  26% (93)  84% (299)
 LISA Academy 7-8  540  4% (22)  57% (307)  14% (77)  21% (113)  49% (265)  16% (86)  86% (464)
 LISA Academy High  365  6% (22)  42% (153)  24% (88)  17% (62)  47% (172)  12% (44)  76% (277)
 LR Prep  411  9% (37)  84% (345)  1% (4)  10% (41)  89% (366)  0% (0)  99% (407)
 Exalt  307  4% (12)  96% (295)  2% (6)  51% (157)  45% (138)  1% (3)  98% (300)
 Premier  109  11% (12)  23% (25)  9% (10)  3% (3)  88% (96)  0% (0)  91% (99)
 SIA Tech  171  3% (5)  82% (140)  3% (5)  5% (9)  91% (156)  1% (2)  97% (166)
 Covenant Keepers  180  4% (7)  94% (169)  0% (0)  53% (95)  46% (83)  1% (2)  100% (180)
 Quest  192  17% (32)  12% (23)  60% (115)  7% (13)  22% (42)  11% (21)  40% (77)
 Rockbridge  151  7% (11)  56% (85)  18% (27)  6% (9)  68% (103)  9% (14)  82% (124)

 

Have other concerns regarding open-enrollment public charter schools in Arkansas? Share them, and we'll share the facts.

 

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Fast Facts on K-12 Education in Pulaski County South of River

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Monday, August 21, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Progress

  • Since State intervention in 2015, three of six LRSD schools have been removed from Academic Distress
  • In 2016, LRSD and PCSSD were two of only twelve districts and one charter in Arkansas to improve in every grade on the ACT Aspire
  • In 2016, LRSD resident (non-transfer) enrollment exceeded resident enrollment in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013
  • In 2016, LRSD opened Pinnacle View Middle School (PVMS) sixth grade
    • When at capacity in 2018, district's largest building will have district's second highest enrollment, exceeded only by Central
    • By utilizing elementary feeder schools instead of attendance zone, PVMS opened as the district school which most reflects Little Rock's demographics - 46% Black, 41% White, 2% Hispanic, 10% Other
    • By converting existing building, PVMS saved district approximately $15M to be dedicated to Little Rock Southwest High School
    • In year before PVMS opened, Quest, the closest charter, had 71 sixth graders. The year PVMS opened, Quest had 27 sixth graders
  • In 2016, Little Rock Preparatory Academy opened new 5-8 campus at former Lutheran School
  • In 2016, LISA Academy Chenal opened new K-6
  • In 2017, eStem Public Charter Schools opened new high school on campus of UALR
  • In 2017, via second lien bonds, LRSD is making improvements to every facility in district
  • In 2018, PCSSD, via second lien bonds and final year's Desegregation Settlement Agreement payment, will open a new Mills High School, converted Fuller Middle School, and expanded Robinson Middle School
  • In 2018, eStem Public Charter School will open new K-8 on Shall Street
  • In 2018, PCSSD will participate in inter-district school choice
  • In 2019, via final year's Desegregation Settlement Agreement payment and second lien bonds, LRSD will open Little Rock Southwest High School

Academics

  • LRSD has seven Priority Schools (among lowest 5% academically performing in state and 17.5% of state's total)
    • Baseline Elementary
      • 14.8% enter second grade two or more grades behind in Math
      • 31.2% enter third grade two or more grades behind in Math
      • 13% enter third grade two or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 31.2% enter fourth grade two or more grades behind in Math
      • 23% enter fourth grade two or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 44.1% enter fifth grade two or more grades behind in Math
      • 26% enter fifth grade two or more grades behind in English Language Arts
    • Cloverdale Middle School (also Academic Distress - three-year average of less than 49.5% of students proficient - 44.168%)
      • 67% enter sixth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 61% enter sixth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 65% enter seventh grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 63% enter seventh grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 63% enter eighth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 65% enter eighth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
    • Henderson Middle School (also Academic Distress - three-year average of less than 49.5% of students proficient - 47.473%)
      • 77% enter sixth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 43% enter sixth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 79% enter seventh grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 35% enter seventh grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 78% enter eight grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 29% enter eighth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
    • Mabelvale Middle School
      • 69% enter sixth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 33% enter sixth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 72% enter seventh grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 52% enter seventh grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 77% enter eighth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 52% enter eighth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
    • Fair High School
      • 95% enter ninth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 76% enter ninth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 97% enter tenth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 67% enter tenth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
    • Hall High School (also Academic Distress - three-year average of less than 49.5% of students proficient - 39.296%)
      • 92% enter ninth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 86% enter ninth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 90% enter tenth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 71% enter tenth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
    • McClellan High School
      • 78% enter ninth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 75% enter ninth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 75% enter tenth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 79% enter tenth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 50% enter eleventh grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 77% enter eleventh grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
      • 54% enter twelfth grade three or more grades behind in Math
      • 67% enter twelfth grade three or more grades behind in English Language Arts
  • LRSD has thirteen Focus Schools (among lowest 6-10% academically performing in state and 18% of state's total)
  • Eleven of LRSD's 26 elementary schools are Focus Schools
    • Bale
    • Chicot
    • King
    • Pulaski Heights
    • Rockefeller
    • Romine
    • Stephens
    • Wakefield
    • Washington
    • Watson
    • Western Hills
  • Two Focus Schools were closed - Franklin, Wilson
  • Twelve of LRSD's twenty-six elementary schools, three of seven middle schools, and four of five high schools are either Focus or Priority Schools, among lowest 10% performing in state
  • PCSSD Mills High School is in Academic Distress (three-year average of less than 49.5% of students proficient - 48.851%)
  • Of the fifteen schools in Academic Distress in Arkansas, Little Rock has four (26.67%) - LRSD (3), PCSSD (1)

Enrollment

  • In 2016, 40,609 students enrolled in K-12 in Pulaski County south of Arkansas River
    • LRSD (42 Schools) - 22,759 (56%)
    • Private  (17 Schools) - 8,184 (20%)
    • PCSSD (11 Schools) - 4,770 (12%)
    • Charter (9 Schools) - 4,252 (10%)
    • Home School - 644 (2%)
  • There are at least 79 K-12 schools in Pulaski County south of Arkansas River
  • 2014 Desegregation Settlement Agreement conditions ended average of 1,769 choicing into LRSD from PCSSD and NLRSD via Majority-to-Minority transfers
  • Over past 13 years, City of Little Rock population grew +7.3%
    • LRSD enrollment dropped -6.8% (-1,665 students)
    • NLRSD enrollment dropped -7.7% (-705 students)
    • PCSSD enrollment dropped -10.2% (-1,835 students)
    • Conway School District grew +17.5% (+1,478 students)
    • Benton School District grew +20.1% (+854 students)
    • Bryant School District grew +38.4% (+2,536 students)
    • Combined Conway, Benton, Bryant grew +4,868, more than both PCSSD and Charter enrollment in Pulaski County south of river
  • LRSD school board zones are of essentially equal population, but vary widely in number/type of schools:
    • Zone 1 has 11 schools (1 HS, 3 Middle, 5 Elementary, 1 Pre-K, 1 Technical)
    • Zone 2 has 4 schools (1 HS, 3 Elementary)
    • Zone 3 has 8 schools (1 HS, 1 Middle, 1 K-8, 4 Elementary, 1 Pre-K)
    • Zone 4 has 4 schools (3 Elementary, 1 6-7)
    • Zone 5 has 3 schools (1 HS, 1 Middle, 1 Elementary)
    • Zone 6 has 7 schools (5 Elementary, 1 Pre-K, 1 ALE)
    • Zone 7 has 7 schools (1 HS, 2 Middle, 3 Elementary, 1 Pre-K)
  • Between 2000 and 2015, elementary-age population declined in all but two LRSD board zones:
    • Zone 1 (-46.6%)
    • Zone 6 (-16.3%)
    • Zone 2 (-14.2%)
    • Zone 3 (-14.1%)
    • Zone 7 (-8.4%)
    • Zone 5 (+39.2%)
    • Zone 4 (+43.1%)
  • Within LRSD, students are assigned to schools by residence, but may choose to apply to attend magnet schools at:
    • Central High School
    • Parkview High School
    • Dunbar Middle
    • Mann Middle
    • Forest Heights STEM K-8
    • Booker Elementary
    • Carver Elementary
    • Gibbs Elementary
    • Williams Elementary

Capacity

  • LRSD High Schools have 557 available seats (none at Central, Parkview)
    • Central High School is 31% over capacity (+601)
    • Parkview High School is at 100% capacity (0)
    • Fair High School is at 86% capacity (-150)
    • Hall High School is at 71% capacity (-472)
    • McClellan High School is at 60% capacity (-536)
  • There are 1,129 charter high school students in Little Rock. If all charters closed, and all students chose LRSD, there would not be room in LRSD high schools.
  • LRSD Middle Schools have 1,040 available seats (none at Pinnacle View)
    • Cloverdale is at 66% capacity (-292)
    • Dunbar is at 79% capacity (-174)
    • Henderson is at 89% capacity (-206)
    • Mabelvale is at 81% capacity (-143)
    • Mann is at 83% capacity (-164)
    • Pinnacle View is at 100% capacity (0)
    • Pulaski Heights is at 92% capacity (-61)
  • There are 1,357 charter middle school students in Little Rock. If all charters closed, and all students chose LRSD, there would not be room in LRSD middle schools.
  • LRSD Elementary Schools have 2,623 available seats (none at Dodd, Forest Park, Fulbright, Otter Creek, Terry, Wakefield, Watson)
    • Bale is at 81% capacity (-91)
    • Baseline is at 93% capacity (-21)
    • Booker is at 73% capacity (-172)
    • Brady is at 89% capacity (-50)
    • Carver is at 46% capacity (-341)
    • Chicot is at 86% capacity (-128)
    • Dodd is at 110% capacity (+30)
    • Forest Park is at 114% capacity (+57)
    • Fulbright is at 133% capacity (+156)
    • Gibbs is at 83% capacity (-63)
    • Jefferson is at 89% capacity (-52)
    • Mabelvale is at 90% capacity (-54)
    • McDermott is at 94% capacity (--25)
    • Meadowcliff is at 92% capacity (-30)
    • King is at 63% capacity (-250)
    • Otter Creek is at 108% capacity (+36)
    • Pulaski Heights is at 94% capacity (-20)
    • Roberts is at 83% capacity (-180)
    • Rockefeller is at 81% capacity (-122)
    • Romine is at 48% capacity (-284)
    • Stephens is at 52% capacity (-350)
    • Terry is at 102% capacity (+10)
    • Wakefield is at 105% capacity (+28)
    • Washington is at 48% capacity (-498)
    • Watson is at 101% capacity (+6)
    • Western Hills is at 65% capacity (-126)
    • Williams is at 85% capacity (-89)
  • There are 1,459 charter elementary students in Little Rock. If all charters closed, and all students chose LRSD, there would be room in 18 of 26 LRSD elementaries. Of those with capacity, only ten are not Focus/Priority Schools
  • LRSD K-8 School has 46 available seats
    • Forest Heights STEM is at 82% capacity (-46)
  • There are 307 K-8 charter students in Little Rock. If all charters closed, there would not be room in LRSD K-8.
  • Six of seven LRSD school board zones have excess seat capacity:
    • Zone 1 (+1,447)
    • Zone 2 (+766)
    • Zone 3 (+104)
    • Zone 4 (+49)
    • Zone 5 (-10)
    • Zone 6 (+428)
    • Zone 7 (+140)
  • LRSD's facilities utilization rates are:
    • Hamilton (11%)
    • Carver (46%)
    • Romine (48%)
    • Washington (48%)
    • Franklin (49%) - CLOSED
    • Stephens (52%)
    • McClellan (60%)
    • King (63%)
    • Western Hills (65%)
    • Cloverdale (66%)
    • Hall (71%)
    • Booker (73%)
    • Henderson (77%)
    • Dunbar (79%)
    • Bale (81%)
    • Mabelvale Middle (81%)
    • Rockefeller (81%)
    • Forest Heights STEM (82%)
    • Gibbs (83%)
    • Mann (83%)
    • Roberts (83%)
    • Williams (85%)
    • Chicot (86%)
    • Fair (86%)
    • Wilson (87%) - CLOSED
    • Brady (89%)
    • Jefferson (89%)
    • Mabelvale Elementary (90%)
    • Meadowcliff (92%)
    • Pulaski Heights Middle (92%)
    • Baseline (93%)
    • McDermott (94%)
    • Pulaski Heights Elementary (94%)
    • Parkview (100%)
    • Watson (101%)
    • Terry (102%)
    • Wakefield (105%)
    • Otter Creek (108%)
    • Dodd (110%)
    • Forest Park (114%)
    • Central (132%)
    • Fulbright (133%)

Finances

  • LRSD has highest assessed property valuation of any district in Arkansas ($3,447,675,908)
  • PCSSD/JNPSD has the second highest assessed property valuation in Arkansas ($2,490,356,153), $957,319,755 less than LRSD
  • 23 of LRSD's 42 schools are less than 500 students, the minimum threshold upon which the State builds the funding matrix; the district closest in enrollment to LRSD is Springdale, which has zero schools below 500
  • LRSD's budgeted per-pupil costs are:
    • Hamilton ($34,278)
    • Baseline ($14,545
    • Cloverdale ($11,235)
    • Mabelvale Middle ($10,098)
    • Hall ($10,371)
    • McClellan ($10,352)
    • Franklin ($10,006) - CLOSED
    • Washington ($9,932)
    • Romine ($9,940)
    • Carver ($9,816)
    • Dunbar ($9,586)
    • Rockefeller ($9,501)
    • Henderson ($9,425)
    • Gibbs ($9,351)
    • Stephens ($9,164)
    • Western Hills ($9,100)
    • King ($9.065)
    • Jefferson ($8,967)
    • Wilson ($8,822) - CLOSED
    • Fair ($8,864)
    • McDermott ($8,832)
    • Forest Heights STEM ($8,628)
    • Booker ($8,607)
    • Mann ($8,577)
    • Parkview ($8,382)
    • Pulaski Heights Middle ($8,358)
    • Terry ($8,173)
    • Bale ($8,101)
    • Pulaski Heights Elementary ($8,097)
    • Dodd ($7,814)
    • Watson ($7,804)
    • Meadowcliff ($7,637)
    • Brady ($7,419)
    • Williams ($7,381)
    • Fulbright ($7,208)
    • Mabelvale Elementary ($7,113)
    • Forest Park ($7,044)
    • Chicot ($6,980)
    • Roberts ($6,899)
    • Central ($6,850)
    • Otter Creek ($6,819)
    • Wakefield ($6,456)

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Forget Charters; Jerry Guess/Allen Roberts/John Walker Responsible for LRSD Enrollment Drop

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Saturday, August 19, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 6, 2017

The Little Rock School District has long benefitted from inter-district school choice. Consider the following enrollment data over the past fourteen years:

Year Total Enrollment  Non-resident School
Choice Enrollment
Resident Enrollment Percentage of
Choice Enrollment 
2004  24,424  79  24,345  .32%
2005  25,095  72  25,023  .28%
2006  25,500  44  25,456  .17%
2007  25,738  49  25,689  .17%
2008  24,660  560  24,100  2.27%
2009  24,380  1,569  22,811  6.4%
2010  24,226  1,840  22,386  7.59%
2011  24,049  1,900  22,149  7.9%
2012  23,594  1,813  21,781  7.68%
2013  23,676  1,725  21,951  7.28%
2014  23,363  181  23,182  .77%
2015  23,164  175  22,989  .75%
2016  22,759  192  22,567  .84%
2017   22,338  21  22,317  .1%


What happened in 2008? Majority-to-Minority transfers.

What happened in 2014? The end of Majority-to-Minority transfers, a stipulation in the Desegregation Settlement Agreement imposed by then-Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess, his attorneys at Allen P. Roberts, P.A., and Joshua Intervenors Attorney John Walker coupled with limitation on PCSSD legal transfers to 30 per year.

I was at the Little Rock School Board meeting when members, led by Jody Carreiro, were shocked to learn from their attorney, Chris Heller, what was about to happen to the district's enrollment. But it was too late. They had already signed.

Cut to 2017. The fact is, even with the growing number of open-enrollment public charter seats in the Little Rock School District's footprint, had Guess/Walker/Roberts not ended Majority-to-Minority transfers, the district's enrollment would essentially be at 24,000, comparable to 2004 and 2008, the first full year of Majority-to-Minority. And understand, they only ended it in 2014 because the state would no longer be footing the bill after 2018. In other words, it was never about equity of access. It was all about the money.

For those long benefiting from the politics of division, it's easy to cry wolf over charters instead of holding those most responsible for the district's declining enrollment accountable. And that includes the thankfully removed PCSSD superintendent and his attorneys, along with the attorney who constantly sues LRSD for inequity he helped create and perpetuate.

Also ignored in the discussion is the impact of contiguous school districts on the county's public school district enrollment. Those districts have grown at double digit rates because over 100,000 people wake up every day in a county other than Pulaski and drive into the county to work. The status quo calls it "white flight," but one cannot fly from where one never lived.

And speaking of "White Flight," it has effectively ended under the State's leadership, as the district has only lost 193 students over the past three years and the percentage of White students has remained the same. Meanwhile, Africa-American enrollment has dropped 1,331. And yet, there is no discussion of "Black Flight."

The retention, growth and attraction of families in Little Rock should be the City's and Chamber's greatest priority. And that begins and ends with public safety and public education.

Public / Home School Enrollment

LR Census  LRSD PCSSD NLRSD JNPSD  Cabot  Conway Bryant Benton LISA eStem Other Charters  South of River
Private
 
LRSD Home School 

2004-05

 185,021 24,424 17,961 9,110   8,048 8,442 6,598 4,254 163 0  
679
2005-06  185,868 25,095 (+671) 17,943 (-18) 9,368 (+258)   8,488
(+440)
8,618 (+176) 6,851 (+253) 4,409 (+155) 299 (+136) 0     596
2006-07  187,052 25,500 (+405) 17,756 (-187) 9,334 (-34)   8,912
(+424)
8,774 (+156) 6,862 (+11) 4,591 (+182) 359 (+60) 0     548
2007-08  188,156 25,738 (+238) 17,395 (-361) 8,974 (-360)   9,226
(+314)
9,002 (+228) 7,163 (+301) 4,506 (-85) 411 (+52) 0     562
2008-09  189,971 24,660 (-1,079) 17,410 (-15) 8,970 (-4)   9,533
(+307)
9,144 (+142) 7,383 (+220) 4,527 (+21) 433 (+22) 755     562
2009-10  191,993 24,380 (-280) 17,126 (-284) 9,119 (+149)   9,877
(+344)
9,083 (-61) 7,669 (+286) 4,587 (+60) 465 (+32) 931 (+176)     555
2010-11  193,967 24,226 (-154) 16,828 (-298) 8,862 (-257)   10,052
(+175)
9,256 (+173) 7,949 (+280) 4,666 (+79) 476 (+11) 1,231 (+300)     611
2011-12  195,206 24,049 (-177) 16,959 (+131) 8,545 (-317)   10,115
(+63)
9,432 (+176) 8,291 (+342) 4,618 (-48) 599 (+123) 1,457 (+226)     564
2012-13  196,511 23,594 (-455) 17,245 (+286) 8,610 (+65)   10,167
(+52)
9,630 (+192) 8,620 (+329) 4,768 (+150) 792 (+193) 1,485 (+28)     610
2013-14  197,230 23,676 (-82) 17,060 (-185) 8,553 (-57)   10,172
(+5)
9,733 (+103) 8,862 (+242) 4,922 (+154) 799 (+7) 1,462 (-23)     566
2014-15  197,698 23,363 (-313) 16,592 (-468) 8,576 (+22)   10,128
(-44)
9,771 (+38) 9,017 (+155) 5,000 (+78) 797 (-2) 1,462 (0)     590
2015-16  198,195 23,164 (-199) 16,562 (-30) 8,413 (-163)   10,058
(-70)
9,734 (-37) 8,969 (-48) 5,045 (+45) 825 (+28) 1,462 (0)     644
2016-17  198,541 22,759 (-405) 12,199 8,405 (-8) 3,927 10,290
(+232)
9,920 (+186) 9,134 (+165) 5,108 (+63) 1,261 (+436) 1,462 (0)

NA
2017-18  NA 22,338 (-421) 12,101
(-88) 
8,427 (+22) 4,306
(+79)
10,472
(+182)
10,001 (+81) 9,121
(-13)
5,286 (+178) 1,340 (+79) 1,968
(+506)
 
NA 
14 Year Totals  +7.3% -2,086
(-8.5%)

2004-2016
-1,399
(-7.8%)

2016-2018
-88
(-.7%)

-683 (-7.5%) +79
(+2%)
+2,424
(+30%) 
+1,559
(+18.5%)
+2,523
(+38%)
+1,032
(+24%)
+1,340 +1,968 +1,388  8,184 -35 (-5.2%)


Analysis

Over a fourteen-year period, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) "lost" a total of 2,086 students (-8.5%). In the same period, the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) lost 1,399 (-7.8%) and 88 (-.7%), North Little Rock (NLRSD) lost 683 (-7.5%), and Jacksonville/North Pulaski (JNPSD) gained 79 (+2%).

Meanwhile, neighboring districts in contiguous counties all experienced double digit percentage growth:

  • Bryant (+2,523, +38%)
  • Cabot (+2,424, +30%)
  • Conway (+1,559, +18.5%)
  • Benton (+1,032, +24%)
  • JNPSD (+77, +2%) (2016-17 - 2017-18)
  • NLRSD (-683, -7.5%)
  • PCSSD (-1,399, -7.8% - 2004-05 - 2015-17; -88, -.7% - 2016-17 - 2017-18)
  • LRSD (-2,086, -8.5%)

The combined enrollment of the Bryant, Cabot, Conway and Benton School Districts was 34,880 in 2017. The combined enrollment of the Little Rock, North Little Rock (NLRSD), Pulaski County Special and Jacksonville/North Pulaski (JNPSD) School Districts was 47,172.

However, Bryant, Cabot, Conway and Benton grew by 7,538 students (+28%), while LRSD, NLRSD, PCSSD and JNPSD lost 4,323 students (-8.4%). It is estimated that over 100,000 people who work in Pulaski County live in another county.

The first open-enrollment public charter in the footprint opened in 2004. Total charter enrollment in Little Rock is now 4,696. As of 2016-17, private school enrollment in Pulaski County south of the Arkansas River was 8,184. The latest data on home school in the Little Rock School District is 644 in 2014-15.

The biggest drop in enrollment in LRSD (-1,079) came between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. That is also the period when Superintendent Roy Brooks was fired by board members loyal to Joshua Intervenors Attorney John Walker.

In Pulaski County, 68% of students are in traditional public schools, 18.5% are in private/independent schools, 10.5% are in open-enrollment public charter schools, and 3% are home schooled.

State foundation funding (approximately $6,700 per student) follows students to their public school district or charter school of choice. School districts, however, retain 100% of local property tax revenue dedicated to public schools.

Students who move from or never move to a school district, utilize Inter-district School Choice, attend private/independent schools, or are home schooled have the same fiscal impact on their resident school districts. Those who attend their resident school district's schools then choose an open-enrollment public charter school have a lessened fiscal impact because their resident district retains their respective State foundation funding for 1.5 years following the students' departure from the district.

In other words, the districts retain 100% of the State (and local) funding without the expense of educating the student.

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Only 12 Districts, 1 Charter Improve ACT Aspire Results in Every Grade

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, August 11, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017

While Arkansas as a whole improved ACT Aspire results in every grade, only 13 of the state's 262 public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools achieved the distinction.

District/Charter 4 5 6 7 8 10 Overall 
 Arkansas  +4  +3  +5  +4  +6  +5  +5  +3  +3
 Bentonville  +7  +3  +8  +9  +8  +10  +4  +6  +7
 Cabot  +1  +12  +5  +7  +9  +18  +12  +10  +9
 Conway  +4  +4  +7  +5  +8  +5  +3  +2  +5
 Farmington  +1  +0  +10  +7  +5  +9  +2  +6  +5
 Greenbrier  +17  +10  +12  +11  +5  +8  +9  +8  +10
 Little Rock  +2  +6  +3  +8  +4  +6  +2  +4  +4
 Mountain Home  +1  +9  +5  +0  +13  +4  +3  +3  +5
 Nettleton  +7  +2  +0  +4  +4  +8  +2  +5  +4
 Ozark Montessori  +17  +3  +24  +4          +11
 Pottsville  +4  +12  +7  +3  +8  +0  +11  +4  +6
 Pulaski County Special  +2  +11  +3  +5  +5  +12  +6  +2  +6
 Rogers  +1  +5  +6  +10  +4  +4  +2  +1  +4
 Waldron  +10  +5  +2  +11  +7  +2  +13  +10  +7


While two of the thirteen were in Benton County - Bentonville and Rogers, two were also in Pulaski County - Little Rock (LRSD) and Pulaski County Special (PCSSD), both of which were under State control in 2016. Pulaski County was returned to local control in November.

Of the twelve districts, five were in the Little Rock region - Cabot, Conway, Greenbrier, LRSD and PCSSD.

Source: http://www.officeforeducationpolicy.org/arkansas-school-data-act-aspire

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As Arkansans Outside of Little Rock Say, 'That's Little Rock'

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, July 7, 2017
Updated: Friday, July 7, 2017

You can't make this stuff up.

Those opposing new, refurbished LRSD facilities (Plaintiffs Ross, Springer) are suing the LRSD Superintendent and State Education Commissioner in federal court over inadequate, inequitable facilities. Better not be building, repurposing, refurbishing, and/or repairing buildings. Might undermine another John Walker lawsuit.

Nice work if you can bill it. Create and perpetuate issues in the district so bad that the State has to take over, then immediately sue the State as responsible for the issues local boards - including plaintiffs - created and perpetuated. Read it and weep for the students, families of LRSD.

Cannot wait to hear how plaintiffs explain to Judge Marshall how they seek better facilities by constantly fighting better facilities. If only journalists would have asked that question when reporting on opposition to the millage refinance/extension election and second lien bonds.

Trial set over Little Rock School District building conditions; lawsuit says whites get best, blacks less
By Cynthia Howell
Posted: May 30, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.
Shared by Permission

[Photo Caption]
Cloverdale Middle School is in disrepair, with exterior walls that are failing, according to a lawsuit accusing the Little Rock School District of racial discrimination in regard to the condition of campus buildings. The school serves a large number of students from minority groups.

Building conditions in the Little Rock School District were a big factor in the district's special tax election earlier this month, and they will come to the forefront again in a federal court trial scheduled to start July 18.

U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. will preside in the trial of a lawsuit filed in 2015 by a group of Little Rock district families who are black and by two displaced Little Rock School Board members. The defendants are Little Rock Superintendent Mike Poore and Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key. Key acts in place of a Little Rock school board and is Poore's supervisor in the state-controlled 24,000-student school district.

The trial comes in the wake of district voters soundly rejecting at a May 9 election a proposal to extend the levy of 12.4 property tax mills from 2033, when they are due to expire, to 2047. District leaders had proposed extending the debt service mills as a way to finance $202 million in bond issues, $160 million of which was earmarked to pay for part of the construction of a new $90 million high school in southwest Little Rock, plus improvements, repairs and updates at all other district campuses.

The parent and student plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit -- some of whom initially used the name of Doe instead of their real names -- are represented by a team of attorneys that includes state Rep. John W. Walker, D-Little Rock, and Robert Pressman of Lexington, Mass., as well as Shawn Childs and Austin Porter.

The plaintiffs challenged both the Jan. 28, 2015, state takeover of the school district and what they said are disparate school-building and academic services in the state's largest district.

Last year, Marshall dismissed the legal challenge to the state takeover that had resulted in the dismissal of the district's elected School Board, including Doe-case plaintiffs Jim Ross and Joy Springer. The takeover occurred because six of the district's 48 schools were state-labeled as academically distressed because of chronically low student achievement on state required tests. The number of schools in distress has since been reduced to three.

The state takeover issue is likely to be appealed later to a higher court, Walker said Friday.

The remaining issues in the case for trial in July are the allegations of racial discrimination in regard to the condition of campus buildings and in academic program offerings, school attendance zones, school staffing and discipline practices.

Central to the legal arguments by the Doe plaintiffs are the district's new Pinnacle View Middle and Dr. Don R. Roberts Elementary schools in northwest Little Rock, and Cloverdale Middle and McClellan High schools. Cloverdale and McClellan are much older campuses in the southwest part of the city, and they serve larger percentages of minority-group and low-income students than do schools in the district's northwest sector.

White students are favored in the district, the Doe attorneys contend.

"Plaintiffs claim that LRSD has allocated high-quality educational resources and top-end facilities to disproportionately white student populations in an effort to privilege, recruit and retain white students," a recent legal brief filed by the Doe team of attorneys stated.

They added that there is a "racially discriminatory impact on Plaintiffs, who are all black".

"The student plaintiffs, and their parents on their behalf, assert their Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause right to be educated in 'a system of public education freed of racial discrimination,'" the Doe attorneys also wrote, quoting from the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, arising from a Topeka, Kan., case, that declared laws establishing racially separate schools to be illegal.

The plaintiffs are asking for a court order that would put the brakes on Pinnacle View Middle School -- which is opened now to sixth-graders but is being prepared for sixth through eighth grades. The plaintiffs are also asking for a court approved "constitutionally adequate facilities plan for the LRSD," and a stop to "unconstitutional policies and practices" in other areas of the district's operation, including the school attendance zones.

"This relief will ensure Plaintiffs have just as much of a chance to succeed academically as their white counterparts," the Doe attorneys told Marshall in a recent court filing.

Poore, the superintendent, is defended in the lawsuit by Chris Heller and Khayyam Eddings of the Friday, Eldredge & Clark law firm, which represented the district in an earlier federal school desegregation lawsuit. That now 34-year-old suit -- also involving the Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock school systems, the state and black students known as the Joshua intervenors -- is ongoing, but the Little Rock district is no longer an active party. Marshall is the presiding judge in both cases.

Key is represented in the Doe lawsuit by staff in the Arkansas attorney general's office.

Attorneys for Little Rock district and state education leaders are asking Marshall for a summary judgment against the plaintiffs, which if granted would eliminate the need to hold the July trial.

"Facts? Proof? Plaintiffs were required to come forward with specific facts showing that LRSD has engaged in systemic, intentional race discrimination," attorneys for the Little Rock district wrote to the judge last week in response to the Doe charges of unconstitutional practices.

"They were required to produce specific facts showing that LRSD's leaders chose a discriminatory course of action at least in part because of, not merely in spite of, its adverse effects on ... African-American children," the school district attorneys continued. "They were required to prove that race discrimination is the policy or custom of the school board. They haven't done it."

Heller and Eddings cited an earlier legal decision that concluded that "discriminatory effects alone are not sufficient to show discriminatory intentions."

The school district attorneys told to the judge that the plaintiffs based their arguments on court decisions from the 1970s that arose from highly segregated school districts. The Little Rock district has no virtually one-race schools, they wrote, arguing that those older cases are factually and legally dissimilar to the current case.

"Even schools which plaintiffs say are operated to 'privilege' white students (e.g. Central, Parkview, Pinnacle View and Forest Heights STEM) educate more black students than white students," they wrote.

Pinnacle View Middle School, 5701 Ranch Road, for example, had 222 students in this just-ending school year, 91 of whom were white, or 41 percent. The district overall is about 18 percent white and 65 percent black, with the remaining 17 percent being made up of students who are of Hispanic and Asian descent or are of more than one race.

Several of the district schools that do have above-average white enrollments are older buildings. Before Roberts Elementary, now at 55 percent white enrollment, opened in 2010, the newest school in west Little Rock was Fulbright Elementary, now at 39 percent white enrollment, which opened in 1979.

Other schools with the highest proportions of white students are Forest Park Elementary, 73.6 percent white, built in 1924, and Jefferson Elementary, 72 percent white, built in 1950.

"Plaintiffs may not attend Roberts or Pinnacle view but other African-American students do and Plaintiffs have not shown that those schools were created for the purpose of harming, rather than helping, African-American and other students in LRSD," the Rock district's attorneys wrote.

The Doe lawyers argued to the judge that the Little Rock district has made Pinnacle View Middle School a priority over the southwest Little Rock high school project "in an attempt to privilege, recruit and retain white students." They contend that the southwest school, which is still planned to replace McClellan and J.A. Fair high schools, and Pinnacle View were to be built simultaneously -- with one waiting on the other if one had construction delays.

The middle school moved ahead when the district was able to purchase the former Leisure Arts office building and warehouse for the middle school. Meanwhile, ground has not yet been broken on district-purchased property for the new high school, which has been sidelined in part because of budgetary matters, the attorneys said. They noted that the district had expended $380,528 on the southwest school project and $34 million on Pinnacle View.

At trial, the Doe plaintiffs will rely in part on the findings of their consultant, John Poros, associate professor in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. Poros found that the Little Rock schools with the highest white student populations are provided higher-quality facilities than the secondary schools with the lowest white populations.

Pinnacle View Middle School and Forest Heights STEM Academy for kindergarten through eighth grades were in "excellent" and "very good" conditions, attorneys quoted from Poros' reports. Henderson Middle, which has a largely black student population, was "in need of massive renovation" and Cloverdale Middle was "the worst," with exterior walls that are failing. Central High was deemed "very well maintained," while a good part of McCellan High "should be removed and replaced," plaintiff attorneys quoted Poros as saying. Henderson, Cloverdale and McClellan have very few white students as compared with Central, Pinnacle and Forest Heights.

"We feel these plaintiffs are being mistreated, as all black kids are, by the policies of Mr. Key and the school district," Walker said Friday. "We believe it is due to their low status and their race."

Walker said the plaintiffs' list of potential witnesses to testify in what is currently set to be a four-day trial will be former Superintendents Baker Kurrus and Morris Holmes.

Heller and Eddings, the attorneys for the Little Rock district, told the judge that the plaintiffs have not pointed to any decision by Little Rock district leaders that caused direct harm to the plaintiffs, nor do they explain how they would benefit by closing Pinnacle View.

The district's attorneys also argued that nearly every allegation of race discrimination made by the plaintiffs occurred or persisted during the multiple years that the Little Rock district was led by a majority-black school board and a black superintendent. They also said the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence to support their claims that the black leaders were motivated by racism.

The Little Rock district attorney's took exception to the plaintiffs' using Kurrus' call for a racially diverse district as evidence of efforts to benefit white students.

"In a world where schools in which African-American students are in the majority can be seen as existing to 'privilege' white students, it may make sense to argue that a desire to achieve racial diversity is evidence of race discrimination," the Little Rock district attorneys wrote, and then quoted a line from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more or less.'"

"In reality, however, nothing about Mr. Kurrus' desire to 'build coalitions across racial lines in order to achieve a racially diverse school district' is evidence of an intent to discriminate against African American students," Heller and Eddings wrote.

A Section on 05/30/2017

http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2017/may/30/schools-edifices-face-trial-20170530

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Charter School Families Vote Too

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The next time an elected official or candidate for public office thinks it politically expedient to bash the choices of parents/families regarding where or how they choose to educate their children, consider these numbers in Little Rock alone:

  • 4,076 students are enrolled in open-enrollment public charter schools in the Little Rock School District footprint.
  • If enrollment of each unique, autonomous charter school were combined, it would rank as the 23rd largest district in Arkansas - between Searcy and Jacksonville.
  • 2,221 (55%) charter students are African-American.
  • 636 (16%) charter students are Hispanic.
  • Only 894 (22%) of 4,076 charter students are White.
  • Only two public schools in the LRSD footprint have zero White students. Both are charter schools.
  • Only two public schools in the LRSD footprint are 70% or more White. Both are LRSD schools.

And in Pulaski County:

  • Nearly one in three resident K-12 students are not educated in traditional public schools.
  • Approximately 15,050 (21.5%) of the school age population (est. 70,000) are in private/independent schools (18.5%) or home school (3%).
  • The annual savings to the state not to educate 21.5% of students in Pulaski County is $100,835,000.

There are those who believe all students should attend only schools provided by school districts. And there are those who believe how and where a student is educated is best decided by parents/guardians. The latter value all choices - traditional, charter, private/independent, home. The former scorn any choice not traditional.

Some politicians may hate choice and/or pander to those who do, but they should consider the consequences of vilifying where an increasing number of their constituents choose to educate their children.

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Building Level Finance Provides Fiscal Transparency

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Per pupil funding. It's how the state determines the amount of state dollars going to the public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools of Arkansas.

Because of the Lakeview decision, there is not a finite annual pool money that is divided among public schools. But rather, an "adequate" per pupil amount - State Foundation Funding - is determined each year by the Legislature then distributed to districts and charters based on enrollment.

Each district is required to send to the state revenue from its first 25 mills. This Uniform Rate of Taxation (URT) is then distributed equally, on a per pupil basis, throughout the state. Districts send the same amount to the state no matter the number of charters in their respective footprints.

Local property tax revenue above the 25 mills remains solely with the respective public school districts, regardless of enrollment. Charters receive none of this money.

But what about per pupil spending? Those macro numbers are annually reported to the state by the school districts and charters. While those numbers provide a glimpse into what a district/charter cumulatively spends on students, in districts with more than one elementary, middle/junior high and/or high school, a per pupil/per building spend would provide a much more accurate picture of a district's stewardship of public resources.

To inform its decisions regarding closing and/or building/refurbishing schools, the Little Rock School District examined its per pupil/per building spend.

School  Enrollment  Utilization
of Capacity 
Per Pupil Spend 
Elementary      
Bale  385  81% $8,101
Baseline 296 93% $14,545
Booker 462 73% $8,607
Brady 426  89% $7,419
Carver 293 46% $9,816
Chicot 755 86% $6,980
Dodd 324 110% $7,814
Forest Park 465 114% $7,044
Franklin 269 49% $10,006
Fulbright 632 133% $7,208
Gibbs 306 83% $9,351
Jefferson 401 89% $8,967
King 430 63% $9,065
Mabelvale Elem. 490 90% $7,113
McDermott 360 94% $8,832
Meadowcliff 355 92% $7,637
Otter Creek 489 108% $6,819
Pulaski Heights Elem. 304 94% $8,097
Roberts 885 83% $6,899
Rockefeller 442 81% $9,501
Romine 260 48% $9,940
Stephens 375 52% $9,164
Terry 440 102% $8,173
Wakefield 549 105% $6,456
Washington 453 48% $9,982
Watson 504 101% $7,804
Western Hills 236 65% $9,100
Williams 500 85% $7,381
Wilson 316 87% $8,822
Woodruff* 150 93% NA

     
Middle      
Cloverdale 576 66% $11,235
Dunbar 649 79% $9,586
Henderson 693 77% $9,425
Mabelvale Middle 601 81% $10,098
Mann 818 83% $8,577
Pinnacle View** 222 26% NA
       
Specialty
     
Forest Heights STEM 687 82% $8,628
Hamilton ALE 81 11% $34,278
       
High School      
Central 2,481 132% $6,850
Fair 901 86% $8,864
Hall 1,135 71% $10,371
McClellan 806 60% $10,352
Parkview 1,137 100% $8,382


*Pre-Kindergarten (Not Required)
**Grade 6 Only (Grade 7 - 2017, Grade 8 - 2018)

Spending per student in the district varies wildly, from a low of $6,456 per student at Wakefield Elementary to a high of $34,278 at Hamilton. 

The newest fully utilized school in the district - Roberts - has the second lowest per pupil spend and the largest enrollment of any elementary school.

It's often said that State Foundation Funding is not a spending matrix, but a funding matrix. The increased transparency of building level financial data would serve the taxpayers of Arkansas well.

For a complete breakdown of data regarding each Little Rock School District building, see the attachment.

 Attached Files:

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On 'Taking' LRSD Students, 'New' Boards

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 4, 2019

Public School Enrollment

   LRSD  PCSSD   NLRSD  Conway  Bryant Benton  LISA  eStem 

 2004

 24,424   17,961  9,110  8,442  6,598  4,254   163  0
 2005  25,095 (+671)  17,943 (-18)  9,368 (+258)  8,618 (+176)  6,851 (+253)  4,409 (+155)  299 (+136)  0
 2006  25,500 (+405)  17,756 (-187)  9,334 (-34)  8,774 (+156)  6,862 (+11)  4,591 (+182)  359 (+60)  0
 2007  25,738 (+238)  17,395 (-361)  8,974 (-360)  9,002 (+228)  7,163 (+301)  4,506 (-85)  411 (+52)  0
 2008  24,660 (-1,079)  17,410 (-15)  8,970 (-4)  9,144 (+142)  7,383 (+220)  4,527 (+21)  433 (+22)  755
 2009   24,380 (-280)  17,126 (-284)  9,119 (+149)  9,083 (-61)  7,669 (+286)  4,587 (+60)  465 (+32)  931 (+176)
 2010  24,226 (-154)  16,828 (-298)  8,862 (-257)  9,256 (+173)  7,949 (+280)  4,666 (+79)  476 (+11)  1,231 (+300)
 2011  24,049 (-177)  16,959 (+131)  8,545 (-317)  9,432 (+176)  8,291 (+342)  4,618 (-48)  599 (+123)  1,457 (+226)
 2012  23,594 (-455)  17,245 (+286)  8,610 (+65)  9,630 (+192)  8,620 (+329)  4,768 (+150)  792 (+193)  1,485 (+28)
 2013  23,676 (-82)  17,060 (-185)  8,553 (-57)  9,733 (+103)  8,862 (+242)  4,922 (+154)  799 (+7)  1,462 (-23)
 2014  23,363 (-313)  16,592 (-468)  8,576 (+22)  9,771 (+38)  9,017 (+155)  5,000 (+78)  797 (-2)  1,462 (0)
 2015  23,164 (-199)  16,562 (-30)  8,413 (-163)  9,734 (-37)  8,969 (-48)  5,045 (+45)  825 (+28)  1,462 (0)
 2016   22,759 (-405)  12,199/3,927 (-436)  8,405 (-8)  9,920 (+186)  9,134 (+165)  5,108 (+63)  1,261 (+436)  1,462 (0)
 2017  22,338 (-421)  12,101 (-98)  8,427 (+22)  10,001 (+81)  9,121 (-13)  5,286 (+178)  1,340 (+79)  1,968 (+506)
 2018  21,595 (-743)  11,863 (-238)  8,145 (-282)  9,975 (-26)  9,136 (+15)  5,547 (+261)  1,374 (+34)  3,070 (+1,102)
 2019  21,472 (-123)  11,801 (-62)  8,076 (-69)  10,117 (+142)  9,299 (+163)  5,558 (+11)  1,395 (+21)  3,202 (+132)
 16 Year Totals  -2,952 (-12%)  -398 (-3%) (Since 2016)  -1,034 (-11%)  +1,675 (+20%)  +2,701 (+41%)  +1,304 (+31%)  +1,395  +3,202


Assessment

Over a sixteen-year period, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) "lost" a total of 1,952 students (-12%). In the same period, North Little Rock lost 1,034 students (-11%), a nearly identical percentage to Little Rock.

In the three years since the Jacksonville/North Pulaski County School District separated from the Pulaski County Special School District, PCSSD has lost 398 students (-3%).

Meanwhile, neighboring districts in contiguous counties all experienced double digit percentage growth, led by Bryant's +2,701 (+41%) growth, Benton's +1,304 (+31%), and Conway's +1,675 (+20%).

The combined enrollment of the Conway, Bryant and Benton School Districts was 24,974 in 2019. The combined enrollment of the Little Rock, North Little Rock (NLRSD), Pulaski County Special and Jacksonville/North Pulaski (JNPSD) School Districts was 45,363.

However, Conway, Bryant and Benton grew by 5,680 students (+30%), while LRSD, NLRSD, PCSSD and JNPSD lost 6,132 students (-12%). It is estimated that over 100,000 people who work in Pulaski County live in another county.

The largest open-enrollment public charter schools in the LRSD footprint, LISA Academy and eStem Public Charter Schools, enrolled students from all Pulaski County districts, as well as students from contiguous counties. They also attracted students from private and home schools. Those charters alone grew by 4,597 students over the same period.

The biggest drop in enrollment in LRSD (-1,079) came between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. That is also the period when Superintendent Roy Brooks was fired.

In Pulaski County south of the river, 65% of students are in traditional public schools (54% in LRSD, 11% in PCSSD), 18% are in private/independent schools, 15% are in open-enrollment public charter schools, and 2% are home schooled.

State foundation funding (approximately $6,800 per student) follows students to their public school district or charter school of choice. School districts, however, retain 100% of local property tax revenue dedicated to public schools. Little Rock School District is so rich, it only receives $2,732 in State Foundation Funds per student.

Students who move from or never move to a school district, utilize Inter-district School Choice, attend private/independent schools, or are home schooled have the same fiscal impact on their resident school districts. Those who attend their resident school district's schools then choose an open-enrollment public charter school have a lessened fiscal impact because their resident district retains their respective State foundation funding for 1.5 years following the students' departure from the district.

In other words, the districts retain 100% of the State (and local) funding without the expense of educating the student.

New Board?

Those opposed to State intervention in LRSD and now aligned against the millage extension for new, refurbished facilities have lamented that the "new" board was not given a chance before it was dismissed. What they don't explain is that with seven elected zones and staggered terms, there was essentially a "new" board every year. Throw in five superintendents in eleven years (25 in 34), and there was constant "new" governance in the district.

Year  Super. Board
Zone 1
Board
Zone 2
Board
Zone 3
Board
Zone 4
Board
Zone 5
Board
Zone 6
Board
Zone 7

2004

Roy
Brooks
Katherine Mitchell *Robert Daugherty  Bryan
Day
Baker Kurrus Larry
Berkley
Tony
Rose
Sue Strickland
2005
Roy
Brooks
Katherine Mitchell Robert
Daugherty
Bryan
Day
Baker Kurrus Larry
Berkley
Tony
Rose
Sue Strickland
2006
Roy
Brooks
Katherine Mitchell Robert
Daugherty
*Melanie Fox  Baker Kurrus Larry
Berkley
*Charles Armstrong *Dianne
Curry 
2007 Roy
Brooks
Katherine Mitchell Robert
Daugherty
Melanie
Fox
Baker Kurrus Larry
Berkley
Charles Armstrong Dianne
Curry
2008
Linda
Watson
Katherine Mitchell Robert
Daugherty
Melanie
Fox
Baker Kurrus *Jody Carreiro Charles Armstrong Diane
Curry
2009
Linda
Watson
Katherine Mitchell Robert
Daugherty
Melanie
Fox
Baker Kurrus Jody
Carreiro
Charles Armstrong Dianne
Curry
2010
Linda Watson/
Morris Holmes
Katherine Mitchell Mike
Nellums
Melanie
Fox
*Greg Adams Jody
Carreiro
*Tommy
Branch, Jr.
Dianne
Curry
2011
Morris
Holmes
*Norma
Johnson

Mike
Nellums

Melanie
Fox
Greg
Adams
Jody
Carreiro
Tommy
Branch, Jr.
Dianne
Curry
2012
Morris Holmes/
Marvin
Burton
Norma
Johnson 
Mike
Nellums
*Leslie Fisken Greg
Adams
Jody
Carreiro
Tommy
Branch, Jr.
Dianne
Curry
2013
Dexter
Suggs
Norma
Johnson
*C.E.
McAdoo
Leslie
Fisken
Greg
Adams
Jody
Carreiro
*Tara
Shephard
Dianne
Curry
2014
Dexter
Suggs
*Joy
Springer 
C.E.
McAdoo 
Leslie
Fisken
Greg
Adams
*Jim
Ross
Tara
Shephard
Dianne
Curry
2015 Baker
Kurrus
             
2016 -  Mike
Poore
             

 *New

Assessment

Of the seven superintendents in eleven years, six were not retained. Four, all African-American, were not retained by the local boards.

From 2004 to 2014, every year was a "new" board except 2009, 2007 and 2005. The most "new" members (3) were in 2006. There were at least two "new" members four times in eleven years, including the board that was dismissed.

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West Little Rock: Swing Voters on LRSD's Future

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Updated: Friday, April 7, 2017

The greatest strategic mistake the status quo ever made was ignoring the fervent desire of West Little Rock students and families to become and remain a valued part of their Little Rock School District.

At the time of the district's 2000 millage increase campaign, there were only two LRSD schools west of I-430 and north of Chenal, and both were elementary schools - Fulbright and Terry. So, as an inducement to support the millage increase, West Little Rock families were promised a new Grades K-8 school.

Ten years later, Dr. Don R. Roberts Elementary opened, but as a Pre-K-5, albeit the largest elementary school in the district. And the words "West Little Rock Middle School" were never to be spoken by anyone in authority.

Soon after opening, the demand for Roberts was so strong, the elected board cancelled Pre-K to free seats for K-5. Despite presenting several options for the elected board to preserve Pre-K, once again, the needs and desires of West Little Rock families were ignored, and over 100 West Little Rock Pre-K seats disappeared.

Because West Little Rock's elected board member and his colleagues refused to acknowledge the need for a middle school, West Little Rock parents initiated a Grades 6-12 open-enrollment public charter school.

The elected board hastily bought land on Katillus Road to demonstrate movement, and launched a ferocious, public attack on the charter application and its supporters.

The district lost.

Despite assurances made, under oath and preserved on video and in transcript, by its representatives fighting the charter, the elected board did nothing to build the promised middle school.

In 2014, the elected board finally voted to build a West Little Rock Middle School concurrently with a Little Rock Southwest High School. However, both projects' construction was mandated to be completely synchronized, despite the increased cost, and both were contingent upon the success of an unscheduled millage increase election.

In 2015, with 3/5 of the district's high schools and 1/3 of its middle schools in Academic Distress, including both secondary schools zoned for West Little Rock, many parents supported the State's intervention in the district and removal of the elected board. Having just one Academic Distress school may trigger State takeover.

Then, when the Leisure Arts building became available at a fraction of the cost of building a new school, it was West Little Rock parents who launched the campaign which resulted in the purchase and repurposing of the 245,000 square foot facility into Pinnacle View Middle School.

Former elected board members Jim Ross and Joy Springer and their attorney, John Walker, sued to stop it and all new West Little Rock public schools in federal court.

They lost.

With elementary feeder schools of Fulbright, Terry and Roberts, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall, Jr. hailed Pinnacle View as the "mosaic to which we have all aspired" and the potential rebirth of the district.

Pinnacle View opened as a sixth grade in 2016, and by 2018 will host 1,200 6-8 students as the largest middle school in the district.

Then what?

The State of Arkansas has the constitutional responsibility for public education in the state. It delegates that authority to public school districts and open-enrollment charters. When either of those fail, the State must intervene and reassert its responsibility.

LRSD has had 24 superintendents in 35 years and averaged nearly two new board members a year. The state's governance is simply the latest and most stable in generations. Finally, the district has the opportunity to trend in a positive direction for the students, families and citizens of Little Rock.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Michael Poore, the district's Community Advisory Board, and State Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key, the district proposes to refinance and extend the term of its current debt service bonds. Without raising taxes, this will generate $160,000,000 to build the promised Little Rock Southwest High School and make capital improvements at every other school in the district.

Many opposed to the State's intervention in Little Rock oppose the millage extension. Others are on the fence, weighing the value of immediate facilities for students against who is, or is not, in control of the district.

Once again, it is time for West Little Rock families to buck the status quo, step up and lead. We saved the district millions by buying and refurbishing an existing building, which retained and attracted students. We can build a new Little Rock Southwest High School and improve every school in the district by refinancing our debt and finally begin using more of our 12 debt service mills as voters intended. The previous elected boards had used eight of those twelve debt service mills not for facilities, but for operations.

Conventional wisdom says West Little Rock won't vote YES in any millage election, even one that doesn't raise taxes. But "conventional wisdom" is what got the district into the condition it was in prior to State intervention. And "conventional wisdom" is what allowed West Little Rock to be ignored and neglected for decades.

While leaders waffle and refuse to counter the lies and conspiracies fomented by a loud, but increasingly irrelevant and shrinking fringe, LRSD facilities crumble or are nonexistent.

The most famous high school in America, which celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its integration in the fall, is two-thirds over capacity, holds class in portables, and has locker rooms so abysmal, visiting athletic teams have had to change clothes in their buses. In the fall, the world will be watching again. What will it think about what it sees?

In 2000, the elected board made promises to West Little Rock it and subsequent boards did not keep. In 2017, the only promise made is that all students, families and citizens of the Little Rock School School District, no matter their culture, economic status or ZIP Code, will finally be equally valued.

History calls, West Little Rock. In a referendum on the best interests of students over the self interests of adults, vote FOR on May 9th. And follow, participate in the campaign at Facebook.com/RebuildLRSchools.

 

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Judge Marshall Grants State's Motion, Dismisses all Springer/Ross/Walker Claims Against State Board, Commissioner, ADE re: Takeover of LRSD

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Read Full Order 

Quick highlights... 

"...discriminatory effects alone are insufficient to show discriminatory intentions." (pp. 2-3)

"What's missing are pleaded facts that show the intent to discriminate based on race, facts that show foul thoughts becoming harmful actions." (p. 3)

Letting a doubtful case proceed is often the better course, but not where the governing law is clear and all the facts simply do not measure up." (p. 3)

Pages 4-17 recites the allegations.

Page 17, Judge Marshall says "The Plaintiffs haven't plausibly alleged that the State allowed more charters, mismanaged federal funds, or took over LRSD II for the purpose of discriminating on account of race[.]" They haven't plausibly shown enough to warrant a full hearing and discovery. He references the 1982 deseg case to show how going into hearing/discovery could cost millions and take decades.

(In other words, he's sniffed out that John Walker is trying to start this whole thing over again.)

Page 20, Judge Marshall says that math explains a lot of what Walker is saying is discriminatory intent.

Page 21, Judge Marshall says takeover could easily be explained as "a group of citizens with strong policy views - less public involvement and more private control - wanting a turn at putting their views into practice.

Page 23, "The takeover wasn't graceful or perfect. Bureaucracies always lumber along. But the deviations Plaintiffs raise don't make a racial motive plausible. The Board seems to have followed the proper administrative course, for example, in passing emergency regulations and following up with final ones."

Page 25, "Former LRSD board members Springer and Ross allege that the State Board violated their due process rights by taking away their school board seats. NQ 6 at 65. But they had no legitimate claim of entitlement to them in the face of Ark. Code Ann.ยง 6-15-430(a)(3) & (b)(9), which made the seats subject to a State takeover."

Mentions Kurrus firing on page 29.

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