Arkansas Education

Teacher Salary Increase Options
Screenshot of Bureau of Legislative Research Report / BLR

Plans to raise minimum teacher salaries by less than a few thousand dollars could cost the state between $2 million and $ 7 million dollars. The Bureau of Legislative Research presented Arkansas lawmakers Monday with several routes toward increasing the minimum pay for teachers to nearly $31,000. Currently minimum pay for a bachelor’s degree is just over $29,000.

Members of the Little Rock School District board running for election on September 16 responded to questions at a community forum at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center Thursday night.

Incumbent Norma Jean Johnson is running against Joy Springer in the downtown area. Johnson told the crowd she wants to foster a more positive dialogue about the district to encourage families to stay, while looking for ways to cut wasteful spending.

Arkansas State University is delaying the target opening date of its new campus in Mexico until 2016.

The campus in Queretaro was initially scheduled to open in fall 2015, but university officials say they will push that back by one year.

Arkansas State Chancellor Tim Hudson says unexpected issues with infrastructure, such as water and electricity, prompted the delay. Hudson says Arkansas State's work on curriculum and student services remains on schedule.

A federal judge is ending a large part of an Arkansas desegregation case rooted in the Little Rock Central High School crisis of 1957.

The lawsuit was originally filed by a Little Rock school district in 1982. It said state policies were still creating racial imbalance despite changes made since nine black teenagers needed federal troops to enter Little Rock Central nearly six decades ago.

Arkansas went on to give three school districts more than $1 billion to promote integration.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Tony Wood
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As part of an ambitious $265 million plan to completely remake the North Little Rock School District, the first new school is now open. A ceremony was held Tuesday to dedicate the rebuilt Meadow Park Elementary, with three other schools to open in December.

Students patiently waited through a series of speakers, before the ribbon-cutting and students and faculty shouting in unison "let's go to school."  It's the first new school to open in the district in 44 years.

Little Rock School Board officials are deliberating over whether to re-purpose some elementary schools for older kids after the results of a study from a private consultant recommended repairs and expansions costing up to $500 million.

Carl Baxmeyer of Fanning-Howey architecture and engineering firm of Indianapolis, says his company found some elementary schools might be put to better use.

As more vocal calls for Arkansas to invest in fiber-optic broadband networks for its K- 12 schools surface, Governor Mike Beebe is touting a new partnership on the subject in his weekly radio address. The Governor says the state Education Department, other state agencies and the national non-profit EducationSuperHighway are partnering to look at ways to cheaply and effectively bring the state up to meet national goals by the year 2018.

A school district in eastern Arkansas is exploring options for consolidation after the state said it doesn't have enough students to continue as an independent public school system.

The coming school year, which starts Monday, will be the last for the Hughes School District as an independent entity.

The Arkansas Department of Education says it will have to consolidate or annex into another district next year because it's had fewer than 350 students for two years in a row.

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. 

Gov. Mike Beebe
Colleen Mayo / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says the state can reallocate $15 million to expand broadband access to schools that are lacking fast Internet connections.

The governor said Monday that he still wants K-12 schools to be able to use the broadband system that's available for universities in Arkansas, but that would take action by the Legislature. Beebe considered including the issue on the call for a special session earlier this summer.