Many of Arkansas’s best public and private schools are located in Pulaski County, as the accomplishments of its students show.
Thirteen Little Rock School District students, three Pulaski County Special School District students, and 21 students from seven private schools were recently named Semifinalists in the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program. Central High School produced the highest number, with 12 winners.
Higher education degrees in liberal arts, technology, medicine and business are also available in Pulaski County.
Colleges and universities
The University of Arkansas system has four campuses in Little Rock for undergraduate and graduate education. Pulaski Technical College now has seven in the area. There are two historically black private colleges and a number of career colleges. With some homework, students can find the right one.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock: Now in its 43rd year as a four-year public university, UALR has more than 13,000-plus full- and part-time students.
Long a magnet for “non-traditional” students, this liberal arts school offers the only comprehensive information science and systems engineering degree in Arkansas and one of only 15 master’s degrees programs nationwide in orientation and mobility, teaching the vision-impaired how to get around independently. With the opening of the new Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) Building, UALR students and professors will have a new, world-class facility to help them excel in both. UALR is also expanding its on-campus housing for students.
UALR’s Bowen School of Law: The school, which has an enrollment of 440 students, has a 15 to 1 ratio of students to professors, one of the lowest of any law school. In addition to traditional law classes, students must take two “lawyering classes” in their second year.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences: The state’s medical school trains nurses, physicians, paramedics, pharmacists and other health professionals in its five colleges and graduate programs. On campus are the Jones Eye Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Psychiatric Research Institute, Reynolds Institute on Aging, Stephens Spine Institute and the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.
The Clinton School of Public Service: The UA offers the only master’s degree in public service in the nation at the Clinton School, on the grounds of the Clinton Library. Its impressive speaker series of nationally and internationally prominent lecturers brings the public to campus on an almost daily basis. The school has grown from 16 inaugural students in 2005 to 76 Master of Public Service degree candidates in the 2011-12 academic year.
Pulaski Technical College: The state’s largest and fastest-growing two-year institution counts more than 10,000 students on its roster. The school offers more than 80 degree and certificate programs at its main campus in North Little Rock and at satellite locations in Pulaski and Saline counties. The school also provides specialized training for area business and industry.
Philander Smith College: Philander was founded in 1877 to educate former slaves. Its hugely popular “Bless the Mic” lecture series has brought to Little Rock leading national social and political figures. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only school in Arkansas that is a member of the United Negro College Fund.
Arkansas Baptist College: Arkansas Baptist, which is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist Consolidated Convention, offers both bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. It launched the Literacy Writing Initiative in 2007 and added a football program in 2007 that drew several hundred new students. In 2012 it plans to open the Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development.
Private technical/career colleges include ITT Technical Institute, Remington College and the Eastern College of Health Vocations.
Pulaski County has three public school districts, including the state’s two largest, the Little Rock School District and the Pulaski County Special School District. The Arkansas River divides the Little Rock district and the North Little Rock School District, with the Pulaski County district forming a kind of donut around them.
There are also six inter-district magnet schools located in Little Rock that draw students from all over the county, as well as eight open-enrollment charter schools that by law must accept any student in the state. Here’s some basic information about each district:
Little Rock: Enrollment in the LRSD as of August 2011 was 29,395 students. LRSD has 30 elementary schools, seven middle schools and five high schools, including historic Central High, as well as two early childhood centers, a career-technical center, an accelerated learning center and two alternative learning centers. Eighteen of those schools are magnets with a special curriculum focus, including six that are open to students from the North Little Rock and Pulaski County districts. For more information, call the district at 447-1000 or visit its website, www.lrsd.org.
North Little Rock: As of October 2011, there were 9,083 students enrolled in this district, which has 14 elementary schools, an early childhood center, four middle schools (one of which serves all the district’s sixth-grade students), one high school (split into two campuses, one for grades 9-10 and one for grades 11-12) and an alternative school. For more information, call 771-8000 or visit www.nlrsd.k12.ar.us.
Pulaski County Special School District: The second-largest district in the state, PCSSD includes the cities of Maumelle and Jacksonville. Its enrollment is nearly 17,700 students in 24 elementary schools, seven middle schools, six high schools, an alternative learning school and the Adkins Pre-K Center. For more information, call 490-2000 or visit www.pcssd.org.
Public charter schools
There are three conversion charter schools in Pulaski County: the LRSD’s Cloverdale Aerospace Technology Conversion Charter School (grades 6-8), Arthur Bo Felder Learning Academy (grades 6-12) and NLRSD’s Ridgeroad Middle Charter School (grades 7-8). Open enrollment charter schools include Little Rock Preparatory Academy (5-6); Academics Plus in Maumelle (K-12); Covenant Keepers College Preparatory School (6-8); Dreamland Academy of Performing Arts (K-5); e-Stem Elementary, Middle and High schools (K-4, 5-8, 9-11), and the Lisa Academy (6-11 in Little Rock, K-8 in North Little Rock).
There are several dozen private schools in Central Arkansas, both religious and secular.
Religious schools are affiliated with Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Muslim, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Church of Christ and non-denominational Christian faiths.
The non-parochial Pulaski Academy is one Little Rock’s largest private schools.
Founded in 1944, The Anthony School (Pre-K-8) is another non-sectarian private school, with an enrollment of 415.
The Academy at Riverdale, founded by the late Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller and his wife Lisenne, is a K-12 school for children with developmental disabilities.
Since 1958, The Allen School has helped children from birth to 5 years old who have developmental disabilities. They have a new facility in Hillcrest.
Miss Selma’s Schools, on T Street and Cantrell Road (Pre-K-6), was founded by Selma Ratley in 1956.
For a list of private schools that are accredited by the Arkansas Nonpublic Schools Accrediting Association, call 803-3888 or visit www.ansaa.com.
ACCESS offers basic learning fundamentals for typical children and those with disabilities from six weeks of age to the young adult years through ACCESS Preschool, Foundations and ACCESS Academy. The Stella Boyle Smith ACCESS campus is located in Little Rock, but serves students in seven counties. Its evaluation and resource center draws students from a five-state area.
Several schools using Maria Montessori’s educational plan are in Pulaski County: The Children’s House Montessori in Hillcrest, 4023 Lee Ave.; Arkansas River Valley Montessori, 1509 N. Pierce St.; Johnson Montessori, 2 Van Circle; two campuses of Chenal Valley Montessori, at 14929 Cantrell Road and 15717 Taylor Loop Road; Little Rock Montessori, 37404 N. Rodney Parham; and North Little Rock Montessori School, 900 Mission Road.