LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Little Rock School District is back under local control with the election of a nine-member school board.
The district was taken over by the state in 2015 because six of the 48 schools at the time were under “academic distress.”
Newly-elected school board member Jeff Wood has spent the last four years on the Community Advisory Board after the state took over the district.
Wood said during the state take-over, significant changes were made.
“And now it’s time to see if those take root and result in better performance by our students,” Wood said.
Wood admits there’s still a lot of work left to do, especially with improving student reading rates and enrollment.
“It’s going to take a lot of work to win families over that the Little Rock School District is the best place for their kids,” Wood said.
Superintendent Mike Poore said having the new school board will be a dramatic change.
“This local board now gets to make decisions about the priorities for this district,” Poore said. “They also get to monitor the exit criteria that returns full local control.”
Alongside boosting academics and enrollment, the budget is a top priority for Poore.
“Because tied to potential loss of funding with enrollment or less tax collection is there’s also goals,” Poore said. “These board candidates have brought it up, and certainly my goal, we want to honor our staff with being able to find ways to increase their pay at some point, too.”
Poore and Wood agree: to get this transition off on the right foot, it’s going to take collaboration.
“We don’t want to have people thinking specifically about their geographic area where they were elected,” Poore said.
“Come in with a real attitude of cooperation, working with one another, not against one another,” Wood said. “Every neighborhood working together.”
School board votes are still being tabulated, but right now it looks like four candidates in two of the races will have to face run-off elections. Those will happen December 1st.
The new school board will likely have its first meeting in January 2021.