State Board of Education
During its November meeting on Thursday, the Arkansas State Board of Education upheld the Charter Authorizing Panel approvals for the new district conversion charter schools Cave City Middle School Career and Collegiate Preparatory, Batesville Charter High School, Academies at Rivercrest High School, Vilonia Pathways Academy and Driver Virtual Academy.
Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Deputy Director Dr. Ivy Pfeffer presented an overview of the 2021 Enrollment Report from the Cycle 2 Data. Overall, Arkansas saw an approximate 1.3% enrollment decrease with the biggest decline in Kindergarten. To view the full report reviewed with the board, click here.
In other business:
- The board approved all items on the consent agenda
- The board approved to accept the proof of treatment required to lift Jerri Lynn Odom’s one-year license suspension making her eligible to seek renewal to renew her license.
- The board upheld the PLSB’s recommendation to revoke the license of Katrina Alumbaugh
- The board approved The Hannah School’s request to use the KTEA-3 as their approved assessment for the Succeed Scholarship Program.
- The board granted its final approval for DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 18.00 Residential Placement
- Agenda item II.1 Computer Science Week was not presented during the meeting.
To view the full agenda for the November 12, 2020 meeting, click here.
By Christina Fowler
In a five to four split, the State Board of Education voted on Friday to open up the Little Rock School District (LRSD) Personnel Policy Committee (PPC) to include representatives from each building within the district. This overturns a decision the board voted on in October to establish a PPC that includes three members of administration appointed by the district, and eight certified members voted for by LRSD staff.
“I really feel like to have one person specifically in each building, with a voice, to be able to come back to a district in a PPC meeting and share their feelings is really important. There are 30 buildings in Springdale and each building had a representative and it worked very well. I fell like the teachers felt every building had a voice. Every building has a different culture,” Kathy McFetridge, board member, who made the motion to expand the PPC said.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, LRSD moved forward with the October recommendation and the nomination round was completed by the third-party consultant with more than 250 applications submitted.
LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore raised concerns about modifying the process already in place to establish the LRSD PPC.
“The amount of interest has been positive in terms of people stepping up to say they would like to participate. If we amend the contract right now, you are looking at an additional expense and the reality we will not have a PPC in place to start in January, because we would have to go back and start the process all over again and reengage to do the elections in a whole different way,” Poore said.
Board members who voted in favor of the motion were Dr. Sarah Moore, Brett Williamson, Kathy McFetridge, Chad Pekron, and Diane Zook. Those against were Charisse Dean, Susan Chambers, Dr. Fitz Hill, and Ouida Newton.
The board decided to table items number 13 a and c from Thursday afternoon’s agenda. Instead, it will host a work session to further discuss and flesh-out details for the expansion of the Community Advisory Board and the draft Memorandum of Understanding, and vote on the items at the Board’s December meeting.
Board Member Chad Pekron said prior to public comment, “I thought it was unfortunate that it [the Memorandum of Understanding] came out when it did because this MOU is not what I had envisioned last month when I made my motion. When I made the motion to return the board to local control with an MOU, what I had in mind was a few, albeit obviously big-picture items, but other than that it truly would be local control.”
“What I see is an MOU with a few what I’ll call guardrails. I think at some point we have to give this district a clear set of ideas. We need to have a very clear, understandable set of exit criteria,” Pekron added.
On Thursday afternoon, the board also received updates on possible options for establishing nine LRSD board member zones and a timeline, as well as proposed changes to LRSD’s attendance zones.
Southern Arkansas University’s (SAU) Mulerider Learning Educators Advanced Practicum (LEAP) was provided the approval to expand their program to partner with Camden-Fairview, El Dorado, Lafayette and Paris School Districts. The program allows a partner district to apply for long-term substitute waivers to enable SAU student teachers to serve as long-term substitutes and/or para-professionals for the district during their final semester of student teaching prior to graduation.
“We have piloted the program in Magnolia with two teachers, and it has gone really well.” Neelie Dobbins, SAU Chair of Teacher Education. “Both candidates have been offered teaching positions to start in January.”
The board overturned the PLSB’s recommendation to revoke the teaching license of Haley Diane Widby after they found the complaint had to be dismissed due to a lack of timeliness as set forth in state law.
Final approval was given to the following rules:
- DESE Rules Governing Public School Choice
- DESE Rules Governing the Regulatory Basis for Accounting
- DESE Rules Governing the Arkansas Educational Support and Accountability Act
- DESE Rules Governing Test Security, Testing Violations, and Testing Improprieties
- DESE Rules Governing Class Size and Teaching Load
The following were approved for release for public comment pending Governor’s approval:
- DESE Rules Governing Kindergarten through 12th grade immunization requirements in Arkansas Public Schools
- DESE Rules Governing Student Discipline and School Safety
- DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 11.00 Discipline Procedures
- DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 18.00 Residential Placement
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 22.00 Home Schooling
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 23.00 Testing Assessment and Accountability Program/Academic Distress
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 27.00 Charter Schools
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 28.00 Uniform Grading Scales
In other business on Thursday:
- The board approved a resolution designating December 9 through 15, 2019 as Arkansas Computer Science Education Week. To view the resolution, click here.
- North Little Rock School District’s request for an Act 1240 waiver in order to expand its Opportunity Culture program was approved.
- Haas Hall Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion Report was approved upon the condition that the school provide measurable goals.
- All Charter Authorizing Panel decisions from their October 15th meeting were approved with no further review.
Morning agenda item number six, and consent agenda items four and five were pulled. Consent items numbers 4 and 5 will be reviewed at next month’s meeting. All other consent agenda items were approved.
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.