- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State education officials will consider redrawing school district boundaries in the Little Rock area following the takeover of the state’s largest district.

Arkansas Board of Education member Jay Barth of Little Rock will head a committee to examine how many districts should serve the area and where to place the boundaries, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1z1OFSr ) reported.

Where are people living? What is the tax base? Is there a more efficient way to deliver public education in the county?” asked Barth.

Education board chairman Sam Ledbetter anticipated a lot of feedback.

“You would want to have as much public comment as you could,” Ledbetter added.

The state manages the Pulaski County Special School District and assumed control of the Little Rock School District through a 5-4 board vote on Wednesday. Board members supporting the takeover expressed concern for children attending six of the district’s 48 schools that the state has deemed academically distressed.

The North Little Rock district and the voter-approved Jacksonville/North Pulaski district will also be studied. Voters in September overwhelming supported the 2016-2017 creation of the Jacksonville-area district from parts of the Pulaski County Special district.

Any changes to district lines within the county would need approval from U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. because the Pulaski County Special district is under federal court supervision in a 34-year-old desegregation case.

State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, publically opposed the takeover of the Little Rock School District. She is worried about changing district lines in areas without an elected school board.

“The autonomy of the state board without the representation of the elected school board - to accomplish it that way - to me, would be a gross abuse of power,” she said.

The committee’s findings will be presented to the board in June.


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

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