The Little Rock School Board has unanimously passed a $375 million dollar facilities plan just days before the State Board of Education’s January 28th meeting on whether to take over the district.
The board passed what had been a contentious plan to build new schools in both southwest and west Little Rock, and made a renewed commitment to student equality in the district.
The Little Rock School Board approved a facilities plan last night that includes the construction of a middle school in west Little Rock and a High School in southwest Little Rock.
Board member Joy Springer presented the motion to the board, stipulating that the schools must be built in tandem, that the southwest Little Rock building would be the district’s priority, and the district would renew its commitment to student equality.
"Construction of a southwest high school shall be the district's first priority. Upon a successful millage, the district shall simultaneously authorize construction of a southwest Little Rock High School and a west Little Rock Middle School," said Springer.
Board member Leslie Fisken expressed concern about linking the completion of the two schools. She said the board hadn’t discussed those details in their previous conversation on the plan.
"I don't remember specifically discussing that we would specifically itemize one property or one building as a priority over others. And I do have some concerns about that because I understand the east and the west but we've got the north and the south too. Also, from a contractual legal standpoint, I'm not sure that we can tie the building of one high school to another. If the high school gets delayed then West Little Rock gets delayed?" Fisken responded.
Yet the motion passed unanimously.
School Board President Greg Adams said the compromise facilities plan is proof the board has taken the hard road to change.
"In a meaningful and symbolic way that shows we are yoked together. That we are connected together. And we resist the idea to say I'm going to get mine and I don't worry about yours. And we're saying that is not the way to do business for the school district."
The plan includes a new David O’Dodd Elementary School, the replacement of portable structures district-wide, new activity centers, and air conditioning in kitchens and school gyms.
The board plans to propose a millage in 2016 to raise funds for the improvements.