By Christina Fowler
It was a packed room for the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, October 10 as the State Board approved to replace the framework they approved at their September meeting and replace it with a framework with the goal of a unified Little Rock School District under local control with a detailed memorandum of the state’s rights and obligations to support the district.
The board also voted to terminate the Little Rock Education Association’s (LREA) contract as the exclusive bargaining entity for Little Rock School District employees, and establish a Personnel Policy Committee with the assistance of a third-party consultant. LREA’s contract is set to expire on October 31.
Prior to its vote, the board heard public comment from dozens of elected officials and Little Rock residents.
“On behalf of the City of Little Rock and my fellow board of directors, we share with you a proposal to demonstrate commitment, compassion, collaboration and most of all creative solutions for LRSD. We stand in unity for full and complete local control of every child, from every neighborhood, no matter the zip code in the City of Little Rock so that we create a world-class education system, because we believe in each and every child,” Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. said.
The Mayor added, “We ask today that not only are we going to focus on intentionality, we’re going to put our money where our mouth is, with investment. That investment is by targeting prevention and intervention treatment dollars from the City Of Little Rock that we already have right now to target every child, in every neighborhood, to make certain they continue to achieve; because as they achieve, our city will grow. Our city will prosper.”
During Thursday’s meeting, the board was also provided the ESSA School Index Report by Deborah Coffman, ADE Assistant Commissioner of Public School Accountability. ADE released the 2019 federal and state accountability reports for public schools on Wednesday, October 9, which can be found at https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov.
For 2019, 557 schools improved their overall ESSA School Index Score, 505 schools improved their Weighted Achievement Score, and 576 schools scored 80 or more points on the Value Added Growth Score.
The 2019 ESSA School Index Scores for the Little Rock School District showed some improvement for a number of schools including Bale, Romine and Stephens Elementary Schools, as well as Cloverdale Middle School. However, eight schools received an “F” School Letter Grade for 2019. To view the Little Rock presentation, click here.
When visiting the website, Coffman encouraged individuals to dig into the data available. “Really, where we want you to go and what we want you to talk about is more than a letter grade. We want you to open the ESSA school index and really get in there. That’s where you can learn more about the school’s overall work,” Coffman said.
She also encouraged stakeholders to review the 2019 Business Rules for Calculating the ESSA School Index School, and the ESSA School Index Statistics and the 2019 Annual School Rating Summary to gain a better understanding of the variety of factors that go into determining a school’s rating.
As part of the morning action agenda, the board was presented with a proclamation by Governor Asa Hutchinson designating October as Dyslexia Awareness Month In addition, resolutions to designate October 21-27, 2019 as Arkansas Safe Schools Week, as well as October 21-25, 2019 as Arkansas School Bus Safety Week were approved.
In other business:
- One year waivers for third grade class size were approved for Shirley and Booneville School District. Both districts are currently at a 26 to 1 ratio for third grade, exceeding the required class size ratio of 25 to 1.
- The board upheld the PLSB Ethics Subcommittee recommendation for Jennifer Pippenger Hill, but voted to hold a full hearing at a later meeting for Justin Charity Ruley. The board also voted to suspend Jerri Lynn Odom’s license for one year with a review date pending the completion of inpatient counseling and successful completion of random drug tests.
- The Charter Authorizing Panel’s approval of Hope Academy of Northwest Arkansas’ application was affirmed with a revision to rescind their waiver request for Act 190.
- Courtney Salas-Ford, ADE Attorney, provided the board with an update on the work ADE’s Division of Secondary Education and Equity Assistance Center has conducted with Haas Hall Academy to address its diversity inclusion practices, procedures and policies. A full report will be presented by ADE and Haas Hall Academy at the November meeting
- New Arkansas K-12 Library Media Standards, 9-12 Research Course Curriculum, and Technical Math for College and Career Curriculum were approved by the board.
- The ADE-DESE Rules for Governing the School Worker Defense Program and the School Worker Defense Program Advisory Board were approved.
All items on the Consent Agenda, as well as rules to be released for public comment pending the Governor’s approval were approved. To view Thursday’s full agenda, click here.