Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

TOP STORY >> Sherwood is keeping close eye on PCSSD

Leader staff writer

Saying “Something’s fixin’ to happen in the Pulaski County Special School District,” Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon Monday evening appointed a task force to monitor the complex situation in which the troubled district finds itself.

Moments earlier, the city council unanimously approved a $16.2 million, 2006 general-fund budget and a $1.6 million street-fund budget, both of them similar to the city’s 2005 budgets.

Harmon told the aldermen that the state was studying “busting up” the school district — a study funded at the urging of state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville.

Bond put special language in the State Education Depart-ment’s 2006 budget, requiring the study and earmarking $250,000 for it.
The study would help determine the feasibility of restructuring the existing three public-school districts in Pulaski County. Public-school students in Sherwood attend PCSSD schools.

Sherwood, like Jacksonville, north Pulaski County and portions of the county south and west, all are in the Pulaski County Special School District.

The study will consider the feasibility of two districts in Pulaski County — one north of the Arkansas River, the other south and also the feasibility of one district south of the river, plus a Jacksonville district and another north-of-the-river district.

Harmon appointed two councilmen — Becki Vassar and Sherry Sulcer — to his task force, along with former PCSSD board member Eugene Manfredini and businessman Tom Reynolds. He asked them to work with Ronnie Calva, who represents Sherwood on the PCSSD board.
“Keep us informed,” the mayor charged them.

Jacksonville residents have worked — unsuccessfully so far — to get their own school district and Calva said he’d like to see Sherwood break off and form its own district as well.

In Sherwood’s 2006 budget, projected revenues are about $750,000 higher than estimates a year ago with city sales tax and county sales tax projections accounting for the lion’s share of the increase.

The city has budgeted $541,830 for the city’s share of the project to four-lane part of Brockington Road in 2006. Harmon said the project is ready to be bid as soon as the state Highway Department “turns loose its money.”
“We’re ready to move and our plans are approved,” he said.

Phase one of that project is expected to cost about $3 million.
The entire Brockington Road project, four-laning from Kiehl Avenue to Hwy. 107, could cost $7 million. The city also has budgeted another $400,000 for other roadwork.