Poore announces school closure plans in Little Rock | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Poore announces school closure plans in Little Rock

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 2:37 PM

click to enlarge MAKING ANNOUNCEMENT: Michael Poore. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
TARGETED FOR CLOSURE: Franklin Elementary on South Harrison Street.
  • TARGETED FOR CLOSURE: Franklin Elementary on South Harrison Street.
With a number of unhappy school district residents on hand, Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore announced today his plans for closure of school facilities said to be required to balance the budget as state desegregation aid ends and enrollment drops with movement of students to charter and other schools.

Carver, the academically successful East End magnet elementary that had enjoyed an organized campaign to survive, was spared the ax. But Poore has recommended closing the Franklin and Wilson elementaries, the Woodruff early childhood center and the Hamilton alternative school. The Hamilton students will move to the vacated Wilson building. The Hamilton facility. The former Hamilton facility, once a junior high, will become a K-8 school including the current Bale Elementary. He said the Carver program will be "enhanced." He has no plans yet on use of Franklin if closed. The students will go to nearby schools, Stephens in the case of Franklin. Woodruff pre-schoolers will go to Carver and King Elementary. Wilson students will go to Romine, Bale, Brady and Western Hills.

Public meetings will be held at affected schools, Wednesday, Jan. 18 and Thursday, Jan. 19 at Franklin and Wilson, respectively.

Poore had acknowledged before that the decisions wouldn't be popular. That was made clear this morning by a statement from Save Our Schools, which wants to return local school board governance. The district is in state receivership and Poore answers to the final decision-making authority of Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who's been an advocate of charter school creation in Little Rock that has bled thousands of potential LRSD children from the district. The district was taken over because five of its 48 schools fall short of proficiency as judged by standardized tests. Little Rock has been taken over, though failing charter schools in Little Rock have had their licenses to operate extended.

Benji Hardy attended the session and will have more later.

Poore also distributed a spreadsheet on every school in the district by which evaluations were made. It includes age, enrollment, student performance and future use plans.

He noted savings in meeting the $37 million loss of desegregation money have included shortened contracts for employees and bigger classes. New cuts include more than $1 million in bus routes and more than $1 million in ending the transfer program with other Pulaski school districts and reductions in the central office, perhaps more worth $1 million. He announced a hiring freeze on filling vacancies the remainder of this school year.

UPDATE: Poore, in taking questions, seemed to say he didn't see the need for more charter school expansion in Little Rock, given the surplus of seats in LRSD. He also said he hadn't heard — yet, anyway — from any potential charter operators eying vacant LRSD buildings.

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