Little Rock School District

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

Starting in the next school year, first-year students attending Little Rock’s Hall High School can choose from three coursework tracks focusing on science, technology and the arts.

Officials with the state Department of Education and the Little Rock School District on Tuesday announced plans for re-designating Hall as a magnet school focusing on STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore told the audience that students from all attendance zones are welcome to apply for the 2020- 2021 school year.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore says the ongoing movement for local control of the district shouldn’t overshadow students’ needs.

Speaking at a meeting of the Political Animals’ Club Wednesday, Poore said there should be a greater focus on growing academics in the city’s schools. He discussed his outings into the community where he speaks to children and parents in the LRSD. 

David Monteith / KUAR News

A day after teachers in the Little Rock School District went on strike, members of the State Board of Education voted to change the makeup of a committee designed to aid with employment issues.

The board voted 5-4 Friday to expand a personnel policy committee for the district from eight members to just under 50, with one representative from each school in the district serving on the committee. Elections for the committee were already underway when board members voted to expand the number of seats.

Little Rock School District students, educators and parents picketing outside Central High during a teacher strike.
Chris Banks

Little Rock School District teachers took part in a one-day strike Thursday and were joined on the picket lines by parents and students. Picketers are objecting to the district no longer recognizing the teacher’s union and the district still being under state control.

Outside of Central High School, there were chants of "What do we want? Local control! When do we want it? Now!"

Chris Dorer, the school’s History department chair, said that the district being under state control equates to systematic racism and oppression.

Little rock school district
Chris Banks / KUAR News

Little Rock teachers are striking for the first time in more than three decades over the state's control of the local school system and a panel's decision to strip their union's collective bargaining rights.

Members of the Little Rock Education Association are picketing across the 23,000-school district on Thursday in what's being billed as a one-day strike to protest Arkansas' takeover of the local system. Arkansas has run the school district since 2015, when it was taken over because of low scores at several schools.

Teresa Knapp Gordon (center), president of the Little Rock Education Association, telling reporters Monday that the union is calling for a one-day strike on Thursday.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The return of the Little Rock School District to local control has been a controversial topic since the state took over the district almost five years ago. State officials say the outcome of an Oct. 10 meeting of the State Board of Education signals a return to local control of the district, but others disagree. 

What we know, after the marathon eight-hour meeting and roughly 350 pages of transcribed minutes, is that it's complicated.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

(Editors Note 10/25/2019: We have changed the headline and first paragraph of this article to clarify that local control was not immediately restored to the LRSD by the Arkansas State Board of Education. The meeting’s minutes have clarified that the approved motion included a unified school district under local control with a yet-to-be drafted memorandum of understanding explaining the state’s rights and obligations to the district. We will continue reporting new facts and context of this ongoing issue.

Sarah Kellogg

The city of Little Rock is presenting a proposal to the Arkansas State Board of Education that would establish a temporary school board before eventually returning the Little Rock School District back to local control.

Little rock school district
KATV-Channel 7

The Arkansas Board of Education’s new plan for a partial return of local control to the Little Rock School District is raising concerns from many. It divides the district into three separate categories that will be afforded varying degrees of local control.

Lower performing schools will be placed in Category 3, receiving the least amount of local control. The curriculum and personnel decisions of these schools will remain under state control.

Johnny Key
Colton Faull / KUAR News

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key says he won't renew the latest agreement between the Department of Education and the teachers union known as the Little Rock Education Association. During a press conference Tuesday, Key cited low test scores as the reason and said the public school district needs more control in deciding when to let teachers go. It now takes about two years to fire a teacher for lack of performance.

The LRSD celebrating a topping out ceremony, a rite traditionally observed by builders when the last steel beam is placed on top of a structure.
Colton Faull / KUAR News

A milestone was celebrated Wednesday in the construction of the Little Rock Southwest High School. Officials with the Little Rock School District held a topping-out ceremony, which is a rite traditionally observed by builders when the last steel beam is placed on top of a structure.

The school, slated to open in 2020, will combine the student populations of J.A. Fair and McClellan high schools. Superintendent Michael Poore says the new faculty will help keep the district competitive.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Conflicting messages of success and dissatisfaction were the predominant themes of a town hall meeting with officials from the Arkansas Department of Education, state lawmakers and the Little Rock School District Thursday. The optimistic assessments of the state of district schools by Superintendent Michael Poore and Education Commissioner Johnny Key contrasted with vocal opposition from the public.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

After a divisive ballot item to extend a Little Rock School District millage tax to fund facility improvements was handily rejected by voters Tuesday, state and city leaders are offering different views about what should happen next. Local activists who campaigned against the millage extension in the state-controlled district gathered near Little Rock’s Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary a day after the vote offering a renewed call to action.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voters gave a resounding "No" to the Little Rock School District's proposal to extend a tax millage an additional 14 years to fund improvements to schools and the construction of a new high school in southwest Little Rock. 

The vote was 3,938 (35.5 percent) for, 7,167 (64.5 percent) against.

Only a little more than 11,000 of the 110,676 registered voters in the district went to the polls.

The extension of the 12.4-mill tax from the current expiration date of 2033 to 2047 would have generated $160 million for the improvements.

Little Rock School District Announces Plans To Close or Repurpose Four Schools

Jan 17, 2017
Michael Poore Little Rock Superintendent
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

Little Rock School Superintendent Mike Poore today announced the district’s latest plans for budget cuts in order to contend with a $37 million loss in state desegregation aid. The plan calls for the closure of Franklin and Wilson elementary schools, as well as the Woodruff Early Childhood Center.

Students attending the Hamilton Learning Academy would move to the Wilson campus. Poore announced that Carver Elementary, which had previously been considered for closure, will remain open.

Soon-to-be-former LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus giving a progress report on the district to the state Board of Education.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Outgoing Little Rock School District Superintendent Baker Kurrus bid farewell to the State Board of Education Thursday, while touting testing evidence of academic improvement. 

The district’s first and second graders increased national percentile ranking on the Iowa Assessment by 15.79 percent in the first grade and 13.95 in the second.

“Look at those math scores," said Kurrus. "It's even more dramatic when you look at second grade math," he said. "We broke the 50 percentile,” he added, about the district's national math percentile rank of 54.

Bobby Ampezzan / KUAR NEWS

At the 104th commencement for Central High School, more than 600 graduates formed two lines and marched through the bowels of Verizon Arena. The crowd inside the stadium filled all of the lower bowl and much of the upper.

On stage sat not a single elected representative of the local school district. For the second commencement in as many years, the city’s schools are being managed by the state and Education Commissioner Johnny Key.

Kurrus Says No Preference For LRSD Between PARCC And ACT

Jun 23, 2015
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

After several days of political wrangling over which assessment to use for public schools students in Arkansas, Little Rock School District Superintendent Baker Kurrus declined to weigh in on the debate.

State Board Of Education To Review Separation Of Pulaski District

May 27, 2015
Arkansas Department of Education Building in Little Rock near the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas State Board of Education took a step to divide the Pulaski County Special School District Wednesday.

The board approved an amended version of a report recommending the cities of Sherwood and Maumelle form their own districts.  Western portions of Little Rock would move from the PCSSD to join the Little Rock School District.

PCCSD Superintendent Jerry Guess told board members he thinks the changes will lead to greater inequity in schools.

Superintendent Baker Kurrus sitting at his new desk in the LRSD administration building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The newly appointed leader of Arkansas' largest school district has launched a weekly column to promote transparency following the resignation of his predecessor amid plagiarism allegations.

The Little Rock School District announced that Superintendent Baker Kurrus wants to speak directly to the community in an "unvarnished" column titled "Straight Talk." In his first update, Kurrus says the district has a lot of organizational weaknesses that can be fixed.

Little Rock School Superintendent Kurrus Assesses District

May 14, 2015
Superintendent Baker Kurrus sitting at his new desk in the LRSD administration building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Newly appointed Little Rock School District Superintendent Baker Kurrus gave a report to the State Board of Education Thursday on his assessment of problems in the district. 

Kurrus said poor communication, budget issues, and a lack of respect between employees had led to a dysfunctional culture in the district.

Charles Zook, son of Arkansas Chamber of Commerce CEO, opposing chamber's role in LRSD state takeover.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A smattering of protestors lined the plaza of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at noon to denounce its support of the state takeover of Little Rock schools. Charles Zook said his family embodies what he characterizes as a suspect network of influence in the state’s 5-4 decision in late January to dissolve the locally elected school board.

Former school board member Charlie McAdoo speaking to about 75 people assembled in church in southwest Little Rock opposed to the state's role in the district.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The first 90-plus days of the Arkansas Department of Education’s role as the operator and arbiter of the state’s largest school district – the Little Rock School District – has not engendered a sense of confidence among all. 

Baker Kurris speaking at a meeting of the Arkansas Board of Education several weeks before being appointed Superintendent.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The new superintendent of the Little Rock School District has only been in office for a couple of days but he may already be striking a different chord with at least a few of those critical of the state-run district's first steps to lift six of the district's 40-plus schools out of academic distress. 

Newly-appointed Superintendent Baker Kurrus said during an interview Thursday he is making inclusion in the decision-making process an early priority.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key appointed attorney and former Little Rock School Board member Baker Kurrus as superintendent of the Little Rock School District Tuesday.

Kurrus, who replaces Interim Superintendent Marvin Burton, will lead the district for a salary of $150,000. Former Superintendent Suggs made over $200,000.