LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Consolidation is planned for the Pine Bluff School District for the fall.
In a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday, district superintendent Jennifer Barbaree said the district would be consolidating to one high school and one junior high school. She said that as part of the consolidation, school districts and buildings would be closed, and some staff positions would be eliminated.
Barbaree said that Pine Bluff High School would be the only high school and Robert F. Morehead Middle School would be the sole junior high for the district. Dollarway High School and Jack Robey Junior High schools will cease as stand-alone student bodies.
The Dollarway High School building, however, will house what will be the consolidated Pine Bluff High School. It and the Morehead school building were newer and “more conducive to student learning,” Barbaree said.
The Dollarway High School building would also be used to house middle school students if needed, she said.
The consolidation means that Dollarway High School and Jack Roby Junior High School districts will no longer be separate student bodies in the district. The Dollarway School District was consolidated with Pine Bluff School District in 2021.
As part of the consolidation, some school staff would be reassigned and some positions would be eliminated. Barbaree said it was not her intention to do a reduction in force, but she would recommend to the school board not to renew non-licensed teaching staff.
Some non-licensed teachers would be hired back based on student needs, she said.
School sports teams would still exist with all sports remaining in place but be consolidated under the Pine Bluff Zebras banner, Barbaree said.
“We will continue the sports they [the schools] have, but they will be one team under the Pine Bluff School District,” she said.
Barbaree said she had been discussing a possible consolidation of the district’s four elementary schools, but no decision has been made.
In a Jan. 26 Pine Bluff School Board meeting, Barbaree and Director of Teacher Recruitment and Retention Monica McMurray presented current enrollment and teacher numbers for the district.
For January 2023 Pine Bluff had 609 student and Dollarway had 160 students with 80 teachers across the two districts. Of the 80 teachers, 31 were not certified, board members heard.
The district’s Jack Robey Junior High had 610 students and Morehead Middle School had 207 students with 70 teachers between the two schools. Of the 70 teachers, 32 were uncertified or long-term substitutes.