The state Division of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a draft Tuesday that lays out a framework for creation of community schools and outlines conditions for the return to local control in the Little Rock School District.
The three-page document from the agency says:
— The state education agency, district and mayor's office would establish a "Community Schools Model" and that those entities "will decide which LRSD schools will receive this support."
— An Alliance made up of community members, school staff and parents would be formed. Other members would be the district's Community Advisory Board, state education agency and a representative from the city.
— The Alliance would determine the mission and strategic planning for the community schools and would work with the district's Personnel Policy Committees to establish personnel policies, salaries, incentives that "may differ from the district's policies."
A section of the document states that the city of Little Rock would offer support but does not define or explain what that support would specifically involve.
The state education agency would continue to work with the Level 5-Intensive Support schools that received F grades in the annual school report card.
"While the District receives Level 5-Intensive Support, there will be no recognition of a sole bargaining agent for LRSD teachers," according to the draft, and that "the State Board of Education must approve all employment decisions related to the district's superintendent.
As the transition moves to a locally elected school board in November 2020, the duties of the Community Advisory Board, as outlined in the memo of understanding, "will transfer and become the responsibility of the LRSD local board," according to the draft released Tuesday.
"The ultimate goal of this document is to provide certainty for the district and the community with regard to the election of a new school board, the stability of the district until the new board is in place, and the state’s commitment to working with LRSD, the city of Little Rock, and other stakeholders to develop community schools that are responsive to the needs of all students and will produce higher levels of academic performance," Education Secretary Johnny Key said in a statement. "This draft will serve as a starting point for the State Board’s ongoing discussion of the next steps for releasing the Little Rock School District to local control. It is very likely that the document will change as the State Board members and the Mayor's Office have an opportunity to review the proposal, discuss the proposed ideas, and consider public input."
His office said the public can comment about the proposal by sending an email to email@example.com.
The draft follows a decision by the state Board of Education on Oct. 10 to return the governance of the state-run district to a nine-member board that would be elected in November 2020. According to the motion by the Education Board’s newest member, Chad Pekron of Bryant, there would be “a detailed memorandum of understanding that sets forth the state’s rights and obligations.”
On Oct. 18, several officials from the state education agency, district and city met, with plans to hold more meetings.
The 23,000-student Little Rock district, currently classified by the state as a district in “Level 5 — in need of intensive support,” has been under state control and without an elected school board since January 2015. That’s because six of its then-48 schools had chronically low achievement on state tests.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.