LITTLE ROCK COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD Brian Chilson

The Little Rock School District Community Advisory Board will hold its monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the LRSD board room, 810 W. Markham St. The board will consider new attendance zones for the district and possibly approve a new attendance plan. It will also discuss a memorandum of understanding between the state and the LRSD on operation of the district under a locally elected board. You can find the agenda here.

It’s entirely unclear what the Community Advisory Board might discuss with regard to the memorandum of understanding between the district and the state. The MOU is in flux after the State Board agreed last week to consider it further at work sessions that haven’t yet been scheduled (or at least publicly announced). The state’s initial plans for the future of the LRSD have roiled the community. A lot has happened, but in short, the state put forward a segregative framework plan, moved away from it, then put forward a draft MOU and now is backing away from it. With both plans, State Board member Chad Pekron objected and suggested moving in a different direction.

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A settlement agreement of a desegregation lawsuit required the LRSD to redraw high school attendance zones using a race-neutral rationale ahead of the 2020/2021 school year. At the Nov. 14, State Board of Education meeting LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore unveiled three options for redrawn boundaries. The district has collected all information about attendance zones here.

The district has presented only one plan for new elementary and middle school attendance zones, all related to the LRSD Community Blueprint plan, approved by the Community Advisory Board and the state last year. Under the Blueprint, Dodd and Romine elementary schools would be closed and students in those zones will be a part of a new zone for a new K-8th grade school in what is now J.A. Fair High School. Rockefeller Elementary School, on the east side of the city, will be converted into a pre-K, and students who would previously have attended Rockefeller will be assigned to Washington Elementary.

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Under the district’s plan, Henderson Middle School will be closed and its pupils will attend the new K-8 on the Fair campus. The new K-8 will also absorb a portion of the Mabelvale Middle School attendance zone. Additionally, Dunbar Middle School will take in a portion of the Cloverdale and Pulaski Heights middle schools.

The bigger changes will take place with high school zones.

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Option 1:

*Under this plan, Hall High School would become a STEM magnet school with no attendance zone. Students who attend Forest Heights STEM Academy would get priority for enrollment in Hall.

*Central High School, which is also a magnet, but has an attendance zone, would absorb a large portion of the old Hall attendance zone. Central’s noncontiguous attendance zone, which currently stretches from its south Little Rock neighborhood into the western and northwestern parts of town, has been described as gerrymandered to take in more white students. This plan would make Central’s zone contiguous.

*The new Southwest High School, which under all plans brings together students who now attend McClellan and J.A. Fair high schools, would absorb Hall’s zone that’s west of University and south of I-630.

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*Pinnacle View High School, which only exists as a 9th grade this year, but is slated to expand to include 10th grade in 2020/2021, would pull in kids now zoned for Hall who live north of Hinson Road and west of Shackleford Road. It would also include the most northwestern finger of the current Central High zone. I’ve sent the LRSD a number of questions about capacity for the Pinnacle High School and will update when I receive answers. UPDATE: Pinnacle View can accommodate about 100 students per grade.

Option 2:

This is exactly like Option 1 except students who live in what’s now the western stretch of the Central attendance zone would have the option of attending Central or the Pinnacle View High School.

Option 3:

Under this plan, Hall would become a magnet but also retain an attendance zone that would be expanded somewhat in several directions. An expanded Pinnacle View High School doesn’t figure into this plan as far as I can tell.