The Senate today approved HB 1018 to allow the Little Rock School District to have a nine-member school board, if it ever has a school board again. The district’s primary senators opposed the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Sorvillo, a Republican from western Little Rock.

Sen. Joyce Elliott objected to a bill written to apply to Little Rock. She noted the decision would be made by a single person, Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who is technically the Little Rock school board under state control. The bill would allow him to designate an expansion of the old seven-member board to nine if and when the state decides to allow elections again. That’s a big if. The district is likely to be a candidate for annexation, consolidation or drastic change after standardized tests this year leave some of its schools below what’s deemed a “sufficient” test score.

School board packing, if meant to wrest control from the black majority seven-member board that governed before the state takeover, won’t necessarily be easy. The district is NOT coterminous with the city of Little Rock and has a population that’s near majority minority. The schools are more than 70 percent black and Latino.