Arkansas Education

Jim Sorvillo
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

School board and millage elections in Arkansas will likely remain separate from General Elections after a bill seeking to align the two failed to pass Wednesday out of the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. Some of the State’s Election Commissioners and County Clerks were opposed to the measure. Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis spoke against the bill saying it would complicate the process of devising an easily understandable ballot:

A Senate panel has voted to prevent the state from renewing its contract with a Common Core-linked test for more than a year after a proposal to scrap the assessment entirely failed.

The Senate Education Committee approved legislation Wednesday requiring the state Board of Education to consider the recommendations from a state task force before deciding to renew its involvement in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Bruce Cozart
Jacob Kauffman

A proposal to allow private nonprofits to take control of failing Arkansas school districts endorsed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been pulled by its sponsor.

Republican Rep. Bruce Cozart told The Associated Press Tuesday that he has deferred the bill and that it won't come up again this session. Cozart says he couldn't get the cooperation needed from proponents and opponents to advance the proposal.

The bill would've allowed nonprofits to take over districts that the state deemed academically distressed. Cozart and supporters said it would provide a new way to help students.

A community forum held January 26th on possible state intervention.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

State-control of the Little Rock School District or any district whose school board has been dissolved could look very different under a bill in the Arkansas Legislature. Still in its beginning stages, the legislation authorizes state-run districts to be administered by non-profit, private education companies.

Arkansas school districts could utilize teachers, administrators and other staff as armed guards under legislation headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The Arkansas House voted 87-1 Wednesday to advance the bill that would let the Arkansas State Police manage the licensing of armed staff. It would abolish a board which currently handles those duties.

The move was in response to the board deciding in 2013 to allow 13 districts to continue for two years licenses classifying them as private security firms, but not accept any new applications.

Officials with a newly formed Pulaski County school district have picked a plan for how to select new leadership.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports interim Jacksonville/ North Pulaski school district officials chose to create a seven-member board. Five of those members will come from single-member zones and two will be elected at-large.

The districts will be used during the September election.

Jacksonville and north Pulaski County voters overwhelmingly approved the creation the 4,000-student school district in September.

The Arkansas Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill easing restrictions on the creation of new school districts.

By a 20-6 vote, the Senate approved and sent to the governor's desk a bill that would lower the amount of students a new district needs to splinter from an existing district. The legislation would lower the requirement from 4,000 students to 2,500.

Supporters of the measure say it would allow Maumelle or Sherwood to split from the Pulaski County Special school district after clearing state and federal hurdles.

Johnny Key Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Governor Asa Hutchinson has named University of Arkansas System lobbyist Johnny Key as his pick to head the Arkansas Department of Education. The former Republican state Representative from Mountain Home would replace former Democratic Governor Mike Beebe's appointee Tony Wood.

However, Key does not meet the post’s minimum requirements of having 10 years of experience in teaching and holding a master’s degree. In a press conference at the Capitol Monday, Hutchinson said he wants the Legislature to re-write the qualifications to allow Key to become Education Commissioner.

education schools

An Arkansas House panel is supporting a proposal to grant waivers to some school districts that fall below the state's minimum enrollment, rolling back a key part of reforms enacted in response to a long-running education funding case.

The House Education Committee on Thursday advanced the proposal to allow districts with fewer than the required 350 students to request waivers from the state Board of Education if they're not classified as being in academic, fiscal or facilities distress.

The proposal now heads to the House.

Charlie Collins
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Public colleges and universities in Arkansas would be required to allow staff and faculty with concealed carry licenses to carry their guns onto campus under a bill approved by a House committee.

The House Education Committee voted Thursday for the reworked measure that was narrowly defeated earlier this month.