During their first meeting in over five years, members of the Little School Board elected its leadership positions, voted to extend the length of time they serve on the board as well as voted to hold a future meeting exclusively focused on COVID-19.
In the meeting, held via Zoom on Thursday night, the board chose its positions of president, vice-president, secretary, disbursing agent and the legislative liaison, with women being elected to four of those positions, including president and vice-president.
Those in leadership are:
- Zone 6 member Vicki Hatter, President
- Zone 4 member Leigh Ann Wilson, Vice-President
- Zone 5 member Ali Noland, Secretary
- Zone 1 member Michael Mason, Disbursing Agent
- Zone 2 member Sandrekkia Morning, Legislative Liaison
The first action the board took after choosing their leadership was to extend the length of their terms from three years to five years with a vote of 6-3. According to Little Rock attorney Keith Billingsley, who attended the meeting in the beginning to aid the board with choosing leadership and term lengths, the board needed to decide their term lengths first. Otherwise, the previous term length of three years would have been implemented.
Due to the entire board being elected in the same year, some board members’ terms are going to be shorter because future elections must be staggered as opposed to all at once. If the board had decided to keep the terms at three years, some of those terms were only going to be one year long, with three board members up for re-election in 2021.
Zone 1 member Michael Mason advocated for the extension of the term to five years.
"The length of time to learn what the whole school district, the whole operation of the school district and it takes persons a little longer to understand what’s going on," Mason said.
Zone 5 member Ali Noland was against the idea, preferring that the terms stay at three years.
"I’m concerned that there will be just some distaste for the idea that we were just elected and our first action was to extend our own terms," Noland said.
Under the new election schedule, which the board voted 8-1 to approve, two board members will be up re-election in 2022, followed by two in 2023, two in 2024 and the remaining three in 2025. This way the elections will be staggered as required by law, but each member will get to serve at least two years, with three getting to serve a full five.
To decide which members would be up for re-election in the coming years, the school district drew zone numbers at random using a machine commonly used in bingo.
The order of zone elections is:
2022: Zones 8 and 9
2023: Zones 5 and 6
2024: Zones 3 and 4
2025: Zones 1, 2 and 7
Additionally, the board spent time talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and asked what authority they had as a board concerning the pandemic.
Board Member Sandrekkia Morning asked what the district can do when it comes to acting on the coronavirus data the district receives.
"On regards to the data that’s being collected in regard to COVID-19. Is the Little Rock School District only able to be reactive to that data rather than being proactive?" Morning asked.
The board voted to have Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore to find a date for the board to meet again to exclusively discuss the pandemic and what the board can do that would also allow for public input.