LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On Monday, Oct. 7, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. was joined by members of the Little Rock Board of Directors as he presents a proposal for the return of Little Rock School District Schools to local control.
Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. called for unity with four main proposals he outlined on Monday.
"Broken schools cannot unite Little Rock," he said.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced that the city wants “full and complete local control of the Little Rock School District.”
Getting that control back is the first of his four points. The rest is what to do with the district.
"Any plan that separates any schools from LRSD denies agency for the very students, teachers and families," Scott said.
In the second branch of his request, the city wants to install a temporary transitional school board in January 2020. Instead of waiting until the November 2020 elections, when voters would elect a new board.
"This transition board will be comprised of state and local community appointments," Scott said.
Finally, the plan calls for special attention to eight schools that got "F" letter grades.
"Schools that remain in the "F" category for academic performance deserve all the special focus and attention we can muster," Scott said.
The city wants LRSD to run those schools but under the terms of an agreement with the state.
These schools will be known as "community schools."
"We will then make up wrap-around services aimed at both students and their families," Scott said.
Overall, the city wants more direct involvement in the school district.
Scott said they are working to higher a chief education officer by January 1 to coordinate the undertaking of connecting the community, city, LRSD and the state.
A couple of Mayor Scott's other proposals include providing free summer enrichment programs, preschooling and for older students, career readiness programs.
The main message of the day though was the importance of focusing on the future generation.
"That's our goal, that's our priority, and that will unite Little Rock," Scott said.
The state took control of the Little Rock School District in 2015 and its five-year deadline to fix students' academic weakness ends on Jan. 28, 2020.
The state took control of LRSD after six schools had consistently low test scores.
At the end of August and the beginning of September, the Arkansas school Board of Education hosted four public forums that lead to heated debates as hundreds of teachers and parents begged for the state to bring back local control.
On Friday, Oct. 4, LRSD's latest test results were announced.
Last spring's state-required ACT Aspire test results show eight of the Little Rock School District's 40 schools will receive "F" letter grades. The ratings will be one of the leading factors used by the state when it reconstitutes the district early next year after five years of control by the Arkansas Dept. of Education.
The future of the Little Rock School District is at the top of Mayor Frank Scott Jr.'s priority list.
"What happens with education is closely tied to our future and our economic viability," Scott said.
Scott said residents have been upset about a historic lack of involvement from the City of Little Rock as a government.
On Sept. 20, the state board for Arkansas Department of Education announced a new framework for the LRSD. The plan would keep the state-controlled district under a monitoring program but would call for an election of a new nine-member local school board.
The state board plans to establish three categories of schools:
- Schools with at least a 'D' would be under a new board
- School in transition
- Failing schools
The plan would kick in if schools remain in academic distress.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr is asking the State Board of Education to take up these proposals and pass them at their meeting this Thursday, Oct. 10.