Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Top Story>>Rural area appears set to support new district

IN SHORT: Survey says Bayou Meto patrons prefer Jacksonville 2-to-1 as PCSSD plans to decide boundary lines.

By John Hofheimer
Leader senior staff writer

By a margin of 2-to-1, Bayou Meto Elementary School attendance-zone respondents prefer affiliation with the proposed Jacksonville-area school district over remaining with the Pulaski County Special School District.

This could clear the way for the PCSSD board to include the Bayou Meto attendance zone in the Jacksonville-area district when the board meets in a special session at 6 this evening at the Dixon Road central office in Little Rock.

According to a breakdown of questionnaires returned at Thursday’s town meeting at Bayou Meto Elementary, 53 area residents prefer to affiliate with Jacksonville, 24 wanted to stay with PCSSD and two preferred splitting that part of the district with Hwy. 107 being the dividing line.

That’s according to PCSSD’s tabulation of the results by Brenda Bowles, assistant superintendent for pupil and equity services.

As many as 200 people attended the hearing at Bayou Meto to discuss the boundary issue.

Supporters of a Jacksonville district seek boundaries that would include all of Jacksonville, Pulaski County north and west of Jacksonville and part of Pulaski County and a small part of Lonoke County in the South Bend area. It would include the entire massive Bayou Meto attendance zone, which has about 800 students.

The options regarding Bayou Meto seem to be: 1. All students go with the Jacksonville district. 2. All of the students stay with PCSSD. 3. Those living west of Hwy. 107 would attend school in PCSSD and those living east of Hwy. 107 would attend the Jacksonville district.

According to the agenda, made available Tuesday afternoon, there will be a report tonight regarding the proposed separation of the Jacksonville school district from PCSSD, with input from Superintendent Rob McGill, members of his cabinet and the district’s desegregation attorney, Sam Jones among others, as well as a spokesman for the Jacksonville Education Foundation and the Office of Desegregation Monitors, the Joshua Intervenors and the Knight Intervenors.

Under new business, there is “approval of a resolution regarding boundaries for the proposed Jacksonville school district and also approval of a resolution to discontinue negotiations for the separation of the proposed Jacksonville school district.

The schools in a Jacksonville district would include Arnold Drive Elementary, Homer Adkins, Jacksonville Elementary, Murrell Taylor, Pinewood, Tolleson, Warren Dupree, Jacksonville Middle School, North Pulaski High School, Jacksonville High School and perhaps Bayou Meto Elementary.

Also at the special meeting, the board will hear a report regarding the comprehensive assessment of central office administrative staff by Key Concepts, Inc.

There will be a consent-agenda item on personnel and also a certified-personnel hearing.