City directors raise questions about Little Rock school closures | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

City directors raise questions about Little Rock school closures

Posted By on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 7:39 AM

click to enlarge SILENT OPPOSITIOIN: Crowd at City Board meeting hold signs protesting school closures. - KTHV
  • KTHV
  • SILENT OPPOSITIOIN: Crowd at City Board meeting hold signs protesting school closures.
KTHV has a report on Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore's appearance Tuesday night before the Little Rock City Board of Directors to talk about recent school closure decisions and a coming vote on a half-billion in new taxes for the state-controlled district.

Poore said he opposed pending legislation to require school districts to sell vacant buildings to charter schools and said he hoped to find alternative uses for facilities such as Franklin and Woodruff that are to be closed and vacated. The district is seeking proposals for those buildings. I don't see how they can refuse an offer from a charter operator at a better price even if the pending state legislation doesn't pass. And I've yet to hear state Education Commissioner Johnny Key, a charter school proponent and the boss of the school district, say he'd stand in the way of such an idea. History indicates he would not. To date, he's refused to speak in public about the tax election and continued charter school expansion.

The public wasn't allowed to speak Tuesday night. But the room had a big crowd of school supporters some holding signs as silent witness to opposition to school closures — Franklin, Woodruff and Wilson. None was a failing school. They are being closed to cut the budget.

KTHV reports that the city board seemed split in opinion about the May proposal to continue an existing tax of 12.4 mills for 14 years, meaning a minimum of a half-billion in new tax authorization.

Poore said he favored local control. He's perhaps sincere. But he answers to a state education commissioner and former state senator, Key, with no training in education who's been a stalwart proponent of the Walton education agenda that has been so damaging to Little Rock. Key's department also has granted almost unbridled expansion along with tolerance to poor charter schools that Little Rock schools are not granted. Only 3 of 48 schools are falling short of sufficiency standards yet the state controls the whole school district and it has no local representation. Give Johnny Key my tax money? I'm not so inclined.

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