Arkansas Education

The Board of Trustees at Mid-South Community College in West Memphis has agreed to discuss a possible merger with the Arkansas State University System.

Board Chair Mary Meux Toney said a merger could help the college do more for the city, county and region.

College President Glen Fenter said ASU would benefit from Mid-South's workforce training programs and the college would benefit from Arkansas State's support for funding workforce training programs.

Fenter said Mid-South Community College would retain autonomy if a merger occurs.

The Arkansas Board of Education has approved the formation of a new school district in Jacksonville.

In September, voters in Jacksonville approved splitting off from the Pulaski County Special School District to form a separate district. On Thursday, the Board of Education signed off on that plan to create the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the new, 4,000-student district will remain under the administration of the Pulaski County Special district during a transition period that is to last no more than two years.

A northwest Arkansas university is asking its board of trustees to approve a nearly $3 million garden and conservatory project.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the privately funded project proposed by the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville would be on the grounds of the chancellor's residence.

According to documents given to the UA System trustees board, the Fowler House Garden and Conservatory project would include a structure designed for events like seated dinners and receptions.

Nearly 880 public schools in Arkansas are classified as needing improvement because they didn't meet their achievement goals on state exams.

The annual accountability report by the state's education department was released Tuesday. The number of schools categorized as needing improvement this year is an increase of 84 schools from last year's total. The state doesn't penalize schools labeled as needing improvement.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced a school safety initiative as part of the state’s Special Investigations Division at a press conference Tuesday.

McDaniel said the program is to increase preparation for school shooting incidents around the state. He says teachers, law enforcement officers and first responders need to know what steps to take in a school emergency.

The Arkansas Department of Education says more students are taking Advanced Placement tests - and scores on those exams are going up, too. The department says more than 25,000 students took the tests last school year, which is a nearly 5 percent increase over the previous year. Students who score a 3 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5 can receive college credit hours. More than 14,000 tests received scores of 3 or higher, marking a 6.4 percent increase from a year earlier. The most popular AP exams in Arkansas last year were English language, English literature, U.S.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Legislators heard from advocates and officials hoping to reform the state's judicial justice system on Wednesday. Panelists told lawmakers Arkansas is institutionalizing too many young people for minor offenses and the costs are high.

Madelyn Keith is with the Arkansas Youth Services Association. She wants more intervention to happen at the community level.

House Speaker-designate Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers Friday approved a contract they hope will lay the groundwork for action in January’s legislative session to provide adequate broadband in every public school. The Arkansas Legislative Council approved a $1 million contract for a consulting firm to evaluate the existing internet capabilities of the state’s public schools. 

The Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees has approved an online master's degree in business.

The board approved the program during its monthly meeting Thursday in Russellville. The Master of Science in Business Administration is to be offered 100 percent online beginning in the summer of 2015.

ATU began offering course work for the MSBA degree during the fall 2013 semester.

After Jacksonville voters decided Tuesday to separate from the Pulaski County School district to create their own, a candidate in Maumelle wants to do the same. Mayoral candidate Preston Lewis says about 58 percent of the city’s children attend public schools and says that number would be higher if Maumelle had its own school board.