Local & Regional News
12:47 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Rally For Proposed Jacksonville School District Draws Hundreds

Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps Chairman Daniel Gray addresses an overflow crowd at the campaign kickoff Mon. night.
Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps Chairman Daniel Gray addresses an overflow crowd at the campaign kickoff Mon. night.
Credit David Wallace/KUAR

A crowd estimated at more than 500 crowded into the Jacksonville Community Center Mon. night to kickoff the campaign for a new school district independent of the Pulaski County Special School District. 

A special election Sept. 16 will determine whether the northern Pulaski County town will have its own district after years of sharing school governance with many other communities in the state's most populous county. 

"We just want to give people a choice," said Daniel Gray, Chairman of the Jacksonville/North pulaski Education Corps. "Give us an opportunity as Jacksonville and North Pulaski citizens to compete. Let us make our own choices. Let us build our own facilities--we know our facilities are terrible."

Gray showed the crowd a pie chart that illustrated only three percent of PCSSD expenditures are allocated to Jacksonville schools. He and Jacksonville City Alderman James Bolden tried to allay fears that some teachers would lose their jobs. 

"Don't fret yourself over stuff," Bolden said. "We're going to take care of you. We got to have the teachers. We can't have the car without the engine."

Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps Committee members Celeste Williams (l) and Pat O'Brien (seated r) count money contributed toward to costs of the campaign.
Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps Committee members Celeste Williams (l) and Pat O'Brien (seated r) count money contributed toward to costs of the campaign.
Credit David Wallace/KUAR

The special election was ordered after more than 2,000 Jacksonville voters signed a petition to form a new district. 

The proposed boundaries would encompass the current Jacksonville and North Pulaski schools' boundaries as well as a small part of Lonoke County.

Committee leaders took up a collection to help defray costs of the campaign. Former Pulaski County Clerk Pat O'Brien, a 1988 graduate of Jacksonville High School, said they raised close to $4,000.