New Little Rock school to bear name of longtime local educator Marian G. Lacey

Lacey academy occupies campus of former McClellan High School in district

The new kindergarten through eighth grade school built on the site of the old McClellan High School at 9417 Geyer Springs Road will be known as the Dr. Marian Glover Lacey K-8 Academy.

The Little Rock School Board voted 7-1 with one member absent to name the new school for the late teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in the district.

The board took the action at a special meeting in which it also selected Mid-Ark Roofing to replace the roof at Dunbar Middle School at a cost of $1.8 million. The project is being paid for with part of the $300 million generated by voter approval last year of a bond extension.

District leaders had presented the board with three options for the name of the school: retaining the John L. McClellan name from the high school; Lacey; and Milton Pitts Crenshaw.

Board member Vicki Hatter made the motion and Leigh Ann Wilson seconded the motion to name the school for Lacey, who died at 76 in 2017.

Wilson said she was eager to see more buildings named for women.

Hatter noted that a survey done on the school name generated more than 4,600 responses. About 3,100 favored the Lacey name, Hatter said.

Lacey worked for 30 years in the Little Rock district after spending the first 10 years of her career teaching English in the Arkansas Delta communities of Helena, Eudora and Clarendon.

She began in Little Rock as an English teacher at then-Dunbar Junior High School. She was an assistant principal at Central High School and principal at Dunbar. In 1988, she was named principal and served 10 years at then-Horace Mann Arts and Science Magnet Junior High School. Under her leadership at Mann, the school won several awards, and Lacey was named a 1997 Milken National Educator.

Lacey eventually was named assistant superintendent of secondary schools and served in that capacity for seven years, until her retirement. The Little Rock district instituted the Marian G. Lacey Educator of the Year Award upon her retirement, according to biographical information prepared by the district.

Board President Greg Adams recalled Thursday that the first time he was ever in the district's administration building it was to meet with Lacey who then, and later along with her husband Jesse J. Lacey Jr., showed Adams "persistent kindness."

Board member Norma Johnson cast the single "no" vote. She said that as a military veteran she favored naming the building for Crenshaw.

Crenshaw, a native of Little Rock who died in 2015, was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, making him one of the first Black Americans in the country -- and the first from Arkansas -- to be trained in the early 1940s by the federal government as a licensed civilian pilot. That led to his earning a commercial pilot certificate and to his work of training pilots at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and at military posts elsewhere in the nation.