Republican politicians have banded together to push for expansion of the Pinnacle View middle school on Highway 10 into high school grades to serve western Little Rock.

Republican Reps. Andy Davis and Jim Sorvillo and City Director Lance Hines (he holds a nonpartisan office but is Republican) issued a statement today saying they were calling Education Commissioner Johnny Key and Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore to add grade nine to Pinnacle in 2019 and add a grade a year until there’s a west Little Rock high school.

Key is now the school board for the district in state takeover. Poore answers to him. Key is also a former Republican senator. Hines was among those who favored a state takeover of the district.

Plans for new schools in western Little Rock were slowed by the desegregation lawsuit, in addition to difficulties in finding land for the projects. But eventually Roberts Elementary was built and then the district acquired a former industrial facility off Highway 10 that was used for Pinnacle View while a new school was built. Now it could be used for high school grades, they said.

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Davis, who serves a district that also includes the Pulaski County School District, said continuing to add grades at Pinnacle View “can offer a bridge to future collaboration with PCSSD’s Robinson High School, which is only two miles away. It’s past time for our institutions to prioritize the best interests of students over the self interests of adults.”

The politicians said Roberts and Pinnacle View had been successful and, without a nearby high school, neighborhood residents would go to private schools or charter school. A charter school operation in the area is expanding into high school grades.

The politicians tout the diversity of the schools. Roberts and Pinnacle are predominantly white, reflecting the surrounding neighborhoods. The Little Rock School District is majority black.  Neither Davis nor Hines lives in the Little Rock School District, but their districts include some of that territory. Sorvillo does live in the district.

Here’s the full news release.

I’m seeking comment from Poore, who’s studying vacant district buildings such as the one proposed for an additional Pinnacle View grade. Charter school advocates have been eying it for another charter school under a state law that gives them first call on vacant school district buildings.  UPDATE: He says he’ll have something to say next week.

The district is building a new high school in Southwest Little Rock and has plans to reconfigure Hall High School. Central High School remains a magnet for high-performing students. It is now about 32 percent white (not 18, as I originally wrote. That’s the racial percentage for the district as a whole, a number comfortably higher in the west Little Rock schools). It is a magnet campus and draws some students from western Little Rock.

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