Frustration mounts over lack of public school options

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Little Rock parents frustrated with a lack of public education options voiced their concerns at a public meeting Monday night. Many parents in West Little Rock feel under-served by the city's public schools. The district has hired a consulting firm to come up with a master plan for managing facilities and population and Monday night was a chance for parents to add their perspective.

"The meeting was not as promised by the Little Rock School District which, honestly, is not surprising," said Melissa Muse, who will take over as the Roberts Elementary PTA President next year.

"I don't think that anyone has left with any better feelings about a middle school being build in west Little Rock," added Muse. "I bought a house in west Little Rock specifically as an investment because I know that this is a growing area. A middle school, even though I know it's not going to affect my child, is going to affect my home."

"There's a lot of frustration that it's taken so long and concern over is it actually going to happen and what happens next?" said Little Rock School District board member Greg Adams. But I look at it from a positive end that we had a bunch of people here and they were really interested and I hope we will get that kind of support when we go forward with the rest of the plan."

"We, as a district, have fallen behind in being able to keep up with the population growth which has been out West," said Adams. "We have students here in this community and many of them choose not to go to public middle schools because it's so far away."

Last year the school district purchased land in West Little Rock for a new middle school but Adams says once the consultant's report comes in, its recommendations will add up to somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"We have a lot of things to think about," added Adams. "And no matter what we do it's going to be some hard decisions and a balancing act to try to figure out how to get the most benefit for the district as a whole."

Adams said hiring the consulting firm to produce the master plan cost the district almost a million dollars. The firm hopes to have a draft of the plan to present to the school district by the end of this month.

There is another meeting scheduled for Tuesday night (June 10th) to talk about the need for a new high school in Southwest Little Rock, it is scheduled to start at 6 pm in the McClellan High School Auditorium.


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