Little Rock School District

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.