Arkansas Education

Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore (file photo).
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The tumult in the Little Rock School District, which is under state control, continues in the new year with plans to close or re-purpose four schools. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman spoke with Superintendent Mike Poore about the future of the district and the legitimacy of state control.

Topics also include: a special election to continue a tax, the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act, the impact to charter schools in the district, and the return of local control.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's new, abbreviated name and logo.
UA Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is changing its abbreviated name from UALR to UA Little Rock and adopting new corresponding logos.

In an e-mail to employees today, Chancellor Andrew Rogerson gave several reasons for his desire to rebrand:

Last week Little Rock School District  Superintendent, Michael Poore, announced four school closings. Meanwhile, Dr. Anika Whitfield of the community group Save Our Schools thinks the outcry would be louder if people didn't fear their job or school would be the next in line for cuts.

“Some of the teachers and some of the parents at other schools....I believe it’s not that they don’t necessarily care, I sense a fear of 'if we speak up or speak out it could be our school next.'”

This time on KUAR's Week-In-Review Podcast:

  • The 45th President of the United States is sworn into office. We’ll talk with central Arkansas's Congressman about what he wants to see President Trump's first days.
  • It’s week two of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly. We'll have an update on several bills involving tax cuts, food stamp restrictions, ethics bills, the lottery, and abortion restrictions.
  • And finally the Little Rock School District announces plans to close several schools, getting outrage from many parents.

Michael Poore Little Rock Superintendent
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

Little Rock School Superintendent Mike Poore today announced the district’s latest plans for budget cuts in order to contend with a $37 million loss in state desegregation aid. The plan calls for the closure of Franklin and Wilson elementary schools, as well as the Woodruff Early Childhood Center.

Students attending the Hamilton Learning Academy would move to the Wilson campus. Poore announced that Carver Elementary, which had previously been considered for closure, will remain open.

Ted Bonner
KATV, Channel 7 News

The Blevins school board member who sparked protests by dressing in blackface for a party was given an award as the "Outstanding School Board Member"

KATV Channel 7 reports that Ted Bonner was recognized Monday night during the board's regularly scheduled meeting. Only 28 people were allowed inside, with officials citing orders by the Fire Marshal's office.

Outside of the room, several people opposed to Bonner stood listening to what was going on inside.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Social media giant Facebook is bringing new technology into Arkansas high schools in order to get students to learn how to code in virtual reality.

Little Rock Central High Students and faculty gathered in the school’s auditorium Thursday to hear from a handful of speakers who talked about the “Arkansas and Facebook Techstart Partnership. In this program, Facebook is delivering 500 virtual reality kits to computer coding classrooms at most of the state’s high schools.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News.

Leaders of two Arkansas community colleges and Henderson State University on Wednesday announced a partnership intended to increase the number of students completing degrees. 

UAPB
toursbyjoshwhitehead.blogspot.com

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has signed a $19.3 million deal with a construction firm to design and complete the state’s first energy conservation project to meet a 2009 legislative dictate to reduce energy costs on Arkansas college campuses by 30%.

Indianapolis, Ind.-based Performance Services, which has similar projects at secondary schools and colleges across the U.S., has been contracted to do the work at UAPB through the Arkansas Energy Performance Contracting (AEPC) Program, which is part of the state’s Arkansas Energy Office.

A state-by-state study of Head Start programs shows Arkansas keeping up with national averages in per-child funding levels and hours of classroom time, but the state lags in pay and education levels for teachers. The National Institute for Early Education Research released the findings Wednesday.

Steve Barnett, the institute’s director and a professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, says in order to improve the reach and effectiveness of early childhood education, Arkansas should find more ways to partner with the federal Head Start program.

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