Friday, May 23, 2014

Pulaski County School District to commit $10 million to closing achievement gap between races

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 1:10 PM

MIND THE GAP: A discussion at Pulaski County School District today on new academy includes UALR's Joel Anderson, attorney John Walker, Supt. Jerry Guess and namesake Charles Donaldson. - MARCI MANLEY/KARK
  • Marci Manley/KARK
  • MIND THE GAP: A discussion at Pulaski County School District today on new academy includes UALR's Joel Anderson, attorney John Walker, Supt. Jerry Guess and namesake Charles Donaldson.

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David Goins of Fox 16 reports on a filing in federal court today by the Pulaski County School District aimed at cleaning up loose ends in the Pulaski County school desegregation case. It follows through on a commitment made in a state settlement of the case to devote additional spending to close the achievement gap between white and black students.

The district says it will eliminate other positions and services to come up with $10 million for the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy (named for a retired UALR administrator) to be administered by UALR and Philander Smith College.

The Donaldson Scholars Academy plan is to improve the academic achievement of all students with special attention to African American students and others who are at-risk of academic failure due to socioeconomic disadvantages and other factors,

The proposal is joined by the Joshua intervenors, representatives of black families in the county. The gap and facilities were particular sticking points as the desegregation case wound down. Both Little Rock and North Little Rock have been released from court supervision. Though there's been a so-called global settlement of the case, Pulaski County remained in court to complete the final goals to achieve unitary, or desegregated, status.

The county would pay $3.3 million a year for three years to the UALR Foundation for operation of the program.

Here's the joint proposal.
Here's a detailed outline for the Academy.

The outline indicates summer "bridge" programs, Saturday classes and concurrent enrollment in college classes, plus a "contract" with parents — all for students grade 9-12 — are among the components. Students who complete the program successfully will be eligible for college scholarships at UALR and Philander. The goal of the program: College graduation.

Also this week, a settlement conference in the case was scheduled July 8.

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