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LRSD's plan to exit intensive state support, explained

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | February 2, 2021 at 10:22 a.m.
FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.

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The Little Rock School Board voted 9-0 Thursday to approve an exit plan meant to eventually extract the district from the intensive support category of the state's school accountability system.

Back up: What would leaving the intensive support category mean?

The Little Rock School District was under state control with no elected school board from 2015-2020. Read more about why that happened in our guide to the district.

Though the state voted in 2019 to return control of the district to an elected school board, the board’s power is limited until the district is no longer classified as in need of intensive support.

Until the district leaves that classification, the school board cannot:

• Change the superintendent.

• Recognize any employee bargaining agent or alter the selection of the district's personnel policy committee (again, read more on what that means in our guide to the district)

• File litigation other than “routine contract litigation” against vendors and contractors

Okay. So what is in the exit plan?

The plan directs the district to use the professional learning communities model and Robert Marzono's High Reliability Schools framework for organizing the work of a school to accomplish greater student achievement.

It also calls for:

Teacher and administrator evaluation systems that help educators improve instruction

• Implementation of the district's adopted reading curriculum that relies on science of reading research and includes support for students who show characteristics of dyslexia

A three-year budget plan that does not result in district operators dipping into reserve funds to meet routine operating expenses

• An approved master facilities plan

How did the board and school officials feel about the plan?

School Board member Jeff Wood said he was grateful that the state had eased its earlier exit requirements but he saw the exit plan as a minimum for the district. He urged that the district focus on improving student achievement.

Superintendent Mike Poore said he is concerned about finances in part because hundreds of students have left the district during the pandemic.

“It's very hard to start to imagine what a budget looks like for the coming years,” he said.

Read more about the exit plan from reporter Cynthia Howell.

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