Sen. Joyce Elliott calls my attention to legislation filed by Rep. Jim Sorvillo, the West Little Rock Republican, that would continue to permit the expansion of the Little Rock School Board (currently non-existent with the district in state control) from seven to nine members.
Elliott wonders if the bill is intended to make it harder, should the district get democratic control back, to elect a black majority school board. The business community push to take over the district was driven by unhappiness about decisions of the recently constituted black majority on the board.
I’ve sent Sorvillo a question about his motivation for the legislation and will let you know what he
The law currently allows nine-member boards in districts with 24,000 or more students if they are not under a court order. Sorvillo’s proposal would reduce to 20,000 the enrollment at which point a district could expand board membership. Little Rock, under state control for four years, is no longer a defendant in a federal desegregation lawsuit. But it is also now too small to qualify under the law for a
Thousands of students in the district have moved to charter schools and further expansions in the pipeline will likely take more. By the time the district gets a school board back (more on that shortly), it might not hit the 20,000
Racial balance of the board isn’t necessarily overcome by additional seats, except for the fact that black and brown residents haven’t historically voted in proportion to their percentage of the population in Little Rock. Still, the Little Rock School District is much smaller than Little Rock as a whole, which has a population about 40 percent black. Most of predominantly white far western Little Rock is not in the Little Rock School District. According to 2017-18 Census data, the district has a population of children 18 and younger of 43,673, of whom 17,420 are white, 23,742 are black and 1,482 are Latino. Though roughly 40 percent of children in the district are white, only 18 percent of students in
About resumption of local control:
A state Education Department official said earlier this year that law required an election in 2019 on restoring an elected school board. However, the state Board of Education has not yet officially