Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

TOP STORY >>PCSSD splitting district distant action

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Following a loud and emotional consideration of Bishop James Bolden’s proposed resolution in support of a stand-alone Jacksonville School District Tuesday night, the Pulaski County Special School District board instead regrouped to unanimously direct the district’s attorney to pursue unitary status, at least in the area of student assignment.

In a related issue a public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. Friday at Jacksonville City Hall to gather public input about a new math and science charter school for the area.

A designation of unitary status is a prerequisite to getting out from under the 20-year-old court-enforced desegregation agreement and to any consideration of a Jacksonville School District.

A unitary school system is one in which the school district has eliminated the old racially segregated dual school system.
Until District Judge Bill Wilson releases PCSSD from the agreement for achieving unitary status, there can be no Jacksonville district.

Not even Bolden liked the wording of the resolution he brought before the board, but he was essentially asking for the board members to endorse the concept of a Jacksonville district.

With caveats and conditions, each board member did express support for such a district.

Charlie Wood said he believed Jacksonville had the right to have its own district, but he wanted to make sure it was not at the expense of his Sherwood constituents. Noting that the people of Sherwood might want their own district, Wood said he as “a little afraid of letting Jacksonville out there first.”

Danny Gilliland, who represents northern Pulaski County, said he favored a Jacksonville district as long as North Pulaski High School and its feeder schools were included.

Board President Gwen Williams said she favored the idea, but had “conditions.”
“I will support Dr. Bolden,” said Mildred Tatum.

Debby Murphy said she supported the idea in principal, but wanted to table the motion and come back with more information and better wording. Superintendent James Sharp said if Bolden was seeking assurance that the district would not stand in the way of a Jacksonville district, he had it.