Michael Poore, superintendent of the Little Rock School District, will talk about the future of schools and attendance zones in the district at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. today at Metro Career Tech Center.
The district provided no information in response to my Freedom of Information request for documents related to today’s discussion including communications between Poore, state Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who controls Poore and the district, or anyone else.
We did talk briefly. He’ll be talking about plans for conversion of McClellan High School to a lower-grade school when the new Southwest Little Rock high school opens and also about ideas for the vacated Fair High School and the currently unused former Southwest Junior High. He’ll reveal ideas for use of a building purchased adjacent to the new Pinnacle View middle school on Highway 10, a site often mentioned as a spot for a new high school to serve the upscale, mostly white neighborhoods of western Little Rock as Roberts Elementary and Pinnacle View do. Poore said he doesn’t believe the building can be taken for a charter school. Many students now at Hall High, non-English speakers, are expected to be shifted to the new Southwest high school, so a change is likely at Hall.
The meeting might be the beginning of a discussion of redrawing of attendance zones in the district. All of this occurs against a backdrop of a steady drain of students to charter schools backed by the Walton Family Foundation. A new one comes
The state Board of Education has yet given no indication of a willingness to allow district voters to again elect a school board. The district was taken over by the state in early 2015 on account of low test scores in six of 48 schools. A community advisory board provides input on district matters, but Key is the ultimate decider and he’s solidly in the camp in favor of “freedom of choice,” even if it increases segregation; unfriendly to the Little Rock teachers’ union, and a captive of the Walton education agenda, which he supported as a state senator, particularly in enabling a huge increase in “virtual charter school enrollment” in
Benji Hardy will be on hand for Poore’s talk today. It is to begin a series of community discussions on addressing school use and other topics — a “Community Blueprint,” the district calls it.