Arkansas Education

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Causes and possible solutions for academic distress in Arkansas’s public schools sharply divided lawmakers at an education caucus at the Capitol Monday. 

Democratic Representative John Walker said he believes the state's "distress" category is a pretense to re-segregate majority black schools.

“Every one of them has huge fiscal issues, and one way you avoid addressing the fiscal issues is by taking the school over, " he said.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Walton Family Foundation says it will be reviewing funding request from charter schools in Arkansas following the announcement of a billion dollar gift to be spent in about 22 states over five years.

Marc Sternberg, head of education policy at the foundation, said the strength of school leadership will weigh heavily in picking schools to fund in 2016.

"We'll be overwhelming focused on growing the charter sector," he said, "because that's where the opportunity is to increase high-quality, autonomous schools of choice." 

Little Rock School District buses

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider its decision that the state Department of Education can't be sued over its takeover of the Little Rock School District.

Justices on Thursday denied a petition to rehear its October ruling granting the state's appeal of a lower court's decision. A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge in March denied the state's request to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling the state could be sued for its decision to take over the Little Rock district and dissolve its school board.

The state Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

A foundation run by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton plans to spend $1 billion on public schools over the next five years.

The Walton Family Foundation planned to notify patrons Thursday that it hopes to establish new charter schools and help programs already in place. The money will be spent in about two dozen states where it has already aided programs.

Charter schools are privately run but receive public funding. Many are dedicated to the arts or to science and technology.

Campaign Launched To Support Tax Increase For Jacksonville District

Jan 5, 2016
Jacksonville High school
WER Architects/Planners

In about a month, Jacksonville residents will be asked to vote to increase the millage tax as the newly developed Jacksonville North Pulaski School District needs to fund several projects. Tuesday evening, a kick-off event showed the rendering for a new high school.

The district is asking for an additional 7.6-mill, hoping to fund a new high school, new elementary school, and four multi-purpose rooms to be added to four current elementary schools; Bayou Meto, Pinewood, Warren Dupree, Murrell Taylor.

Baker Kurrus Little Rock School District LRSD
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Plans are advancing for the Little Rock School District to open a new middle school later this year. It’s to be housed in an existing office building and adjacent warehouse along Highway 10 in west Little Rock.

Simultaneously, the district is also planning construction of a new high school in southwest Little Rock.

Superintendent Baker Kurrus gave an update on both projects to reporters Tuesday at district headquarters.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed three people to the boards of trustees of three universities in Arkansas.

Hutchinson on Wednesday appointed Stacy Crawford of Jonesboro the Board of Trustees of Arkansas State University, Bunny Adcock of Conway was named to the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees and Tom Kennedy of Little Rock was named the Board of Trustees at Arkansas Tech University.

A Pulaski County Special School District Bus parked off of Highway 365.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas lawmakers are discussing a possible return of Pulaski County Special School District to local control as it nears its fifth year under state control. The decision is complicated by a federal desegregation order.

Superintendent Jerry Guess told lawmakers Monday the district is still not “unitary” in facilities, one area it must improve under the order. He said the district, taken over by the state in 2011,  is making progress and has sold $55 million worth of bonds to build a new high school.

Governor asa hutchinson talk business & politics
Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged school board members to “ask the right questions on security” Friday, saying that parents must be confident their children are safe in order for schools to excel.

“Let me tell you: In this world today, a concentration on security and safety in the schools is paramount,” he said at the Arkansas School Boards Association’s Annual Conference. “If parents cannot have confidence in the school district and its security plan, then they’re not going to have comfort in terms of the quality of education. It starts with safety at the schools.”

Brad Bartelt and his girlfriend Connie Hampton, who has been arrested on a weapons charge.

The man accused of prompting a lockdown at Arkansas State University by bringing a shotgun on campus has now been formally charged. Meanwhile authorities Friday released new details of the incident.

A Craighead County judge set bond at $50,000 cash for Brad Kenneth Bartelt. The Jonesboro man was charged with aggravated assault, terrorist threats, criminal possession of explosive material and carrying a firearm in a publicly owned facility.