LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Two Little Rock elementary schools will not be opening their doors when class is back in session in just a couple of weeks.
The Little Rock School District has chosen from the plans submitted for both Woodruff and Franklin elementary schools and sent them over to Education Commissioner Johnny Key. The district announced on Thursday that it would suggest Moses Tucker's plan for the 106-year-old school building of Woodruff.
But some people in the neighborhoods around the schools are upset to see an end to the elementary schools.
"I went to that school, and it is yet another anchor of the community," said Nannette Green, who went to Woodruff. "For them to turn this wonderful and beautiful school facility into an apartment complex is disgusting."
Green said she would have rather seen something which benefited the community, "not benefit investors and real estate companies and rents unaffordable to the average person."
Moses Tucker Properties has proposed the school be turned into a 23-unit apartment complex with space for non-profits, possibly a restaurant, and also a community pool with a yearly membership cost, like Cammack Village.
The real estate company said the units would be in-line with the highest rent costs in the neighborhood; encouraging a unique community feel, like Capitol View or Hillcrest.
Gene Ground has lived across from Woodruff for 17 years. He's devastated to hear the school would be closed. He’s less concerned with how the new development could affect property values and more concerned with the crime it could attract.
"[It] sounds like dangling candy or dog treats trying to get someone to jump for a deal. I don't think that's a good idea currently. I think that would do more harm than it would good,” he said.
As for Franklin Elementary, Superintendent Michael Poore liked the idea coming from the Community Health Centers of Arkansas. The plan would turn the building into a healthcare service with an after school care program, a research center, and even a farmer's market.
"That all sounds good, but it could have remained a school to begin with," Green said, "then we wouldn't even have all these issues."
She thinks that Community Health Centers of Arkansas is going to "profit from the misery of my community." She worries the “Franklin Community Center” won’t serve the needs of the community the way the school did.
These ideas are only suggestions from Poore. Key will have final say as the acting LRSD School Board. The school district said they won't comment until the final decision is made.
"When you give the power to just a couple of people, and we don't have elected officials who are accountable to the citizens of the city, this is what you get,” Green said.
Moses Tucker said they plan to broadly adopt the proposal. We did not hear back from Community Health Centers of Arkansas.
A proposal from the Save Our Schools organization was not chosen for either building. That proposal wanted more classes and students back inside the halls of Franklin and Woodruff.
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