- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The new Jacksonville and North Pulaski School District is expected to pay nearly $11 million for the purchase of 12 school campuses and a bus lot from the Pulaski County Special School District.

Administrators in both districts say the appraised value for the dozen campuses is around $15 million, but district leaders have agreed to a discounted price of $10.8 million, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1EOhOyP ) reported.

Last year, the Arkansas Board of Education ordered the creation of the Jacksonville and North Pulaski School District following decades of work by Jacksonville civic leaders and a September election in which 95 percent of voters supported establishing the new, 4,000-student district out of the Pulaski County Special district.

Planners for the new district anticipate that it’ll begin operating on its own by July 2016. The district remains under the district of the Pulaski County Special district while officials plan the division of employees

Deciding how to transfer ownership of the schools is one of the several challenges that planners have faced in recent months, said Jerry Guess, superintendent of the Pulaski County Special district.

“It’s not just, ‘Oh, heck, you take your kids, and we’ll take ours,’” Guess said in describing the process.

Guess said the sale of the campuses will enable the Pulaski County Special district to keep the tax-free status of its previously issued construction bonds. Not preserving the tax-free status of those bonds would put the district at risk of lawsuits from bondholders who would have been faced with paying taxes on the district’s interest payments to them.

The state-appointed interim School Board for the new district is set this week to consider a resolution and proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year that would take into account the purchase of the campuses, said the district’s chief of staff, Phyllis Stewart.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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