Pulaski County Special School District Administrative Offices
JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - It's been a contentious subject over the past few years, but now some solidarity on Jacksonville getting its own school district.
Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess says the mutual economic benefits of creating a separate Jacksonville school district have school officials optimistic about a future move.
Supporters are pleasantly surprised about PCSSD's change in tune and hope the idea can improve education and quality of life.
"Jacksonville is able to carry its own district," says Bishop James Bolden, a former PCSSD board member and Senior Pastor of Evangelistic Ministries Church in Jacksonville.
Bishop Bolden joins a number of others from Jacksonville who say the town can manage its own education system and now it looks like the Pulaski County Special School District is listening.
"We think it will increase operational efficiencies for both areas," says Superintendent Guess.
PCSSD showed support of the creation in an exhibit submitted to the U.S. District Court. The exhibit is grouped onto the desegregation lawsuit between PCSSD and the Little Rock School District.
Superintendent Guess, says the proposed separation would send about 27% of students to Jacksonville, but only 15% of the property value.
"Meaning that the Pulaski County School district with about 12,500 students would actually become richer in terms of its per student wealth," says Guess.
Bolden sees the economic benefits of improving Jacksonville's schools.
"When people don't have their kids in school, your city doesn't grow. So you have a lot of houses for sale. There's a big economic impact, stores don't come here because there's no growth" says Bolden.
Jacksonville area schools need substantial building upgrades. Superintendent Guess says the separation could bring higher state funding for the much needed improvements.
"We would only get about three million on a 100 million dollar project whereas a hypothetical Jacksonville School District would get as much as 60 million on a 100 million dollar project," says Guess.
Even though years have passed in disagreement, Bishop Bolden looks forward to better schools and better days in Jacksonville.
"It's exciting at the fact that now they realize let us go. If you let us go we'll do the rest," says Bolden.
Superintendent Guess tells KTHV the Jacksonville School District exhibit will go before a federal judge and they hope to get a response in the next three months.
The proposed Jacksonville School District will be about 100 square miles and be made up of ten schools.