Little Rock School District leadership is making a final push to avoid a state takeover of the district. The Arkansas State Board of Education will meet on January 28 to decide if the state should take over the entire district, just its six schools categorized in academic distress, or to allow district leadership to continue in place.
At a special school board meeting Tuesday evening, district lawyer Chris Heller advised the board to clarify to the state that it may be doing better work than Dr. Richard Wilde of the Arkansas Department of Education recently indicated in his team's review of the district's progress.
“We said one thing and the person the state board seems to be relying on said something else. We submitted a report that says every school has narrowed its focus to two or three innovations. They submitted a report saying that's not so," said Heller.
LRSD board members and district Superintendent Dexter Suggs hope to meet Wednesday with officials from the state to discuss Wilde's report on the district progress, and how to move forward with local control.
Little Rock School Board President Greg Adams spoke to members at the meeting. He responded to the Department of Education's recent assessment that the board is trying to do too much to quickly and can’t handle the job.
"We are trying to strike the right balance of treating this with the importance and urgency it deserves, but not in a sense of panic, and not in a sense of losing our heads about this. We want to be as thoughtful as possible because that's part of the feedback we heard too, that we need to be thoughtful and focused. We need to do just the very best job we can with the time that we have,” said Adams.
By next week, school board members, along with superintendent, Dexter Suggs, hope to present the state with written materials to make the case for keeping local control of schools.