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State Education Department chief adopts new Pine Bluff School District lines

by I.C. Murrell | June 16, 2022 at 2:45 a.m.
A map of the future Pine Bluff School District zones is shown. (Special to The Commercial/Pine Bluff School District)

The state secretary of education adopted a drawing of zoning lines for the Pine Bluff School District.

Secretary Johnny Key selected a scenario that was devised after the Arkansas Geographic Information Systems presented three possible drawings to district residents in April at Dollarway High School. District residents then reviewed and voted on the scenarios, with the selected one receiving the biggest tally.

A group of stakeholders presented a fourth scenario to GIS officer Shelby Johnson to consider, but PBSD Superintendent Barbara Warren said later in the month the group's drawing created variances in population that didn't meet redistricting standards.

"While I appreciate the submission from members of the community of what was labeled Scenario 4, upon analysis it did not meet the muster for redistricting standards," Key said in a statement Tuesday. "The population deviation of that proposal ranged from minus-76% to plus-42%, which far exceeded acceptable limits. The boundary lines of that submission also gave the appearance of gerrymandering, which we must absolutely avoid."

Scenario 5, however, was developed after researching Scenario 4, district officials said. The selected rendering drew seven zones that each ranged in population from 5,230 to 5,567. The target number was 5,423, which is one-seventh the total district population of 37,961.

The deviation ranged from minus-3.56% to plus-2.16%.

"The new zones are well within the allowable population variation for electoral zones, and the boundary lines are clear," Key said. The Arkansas Department of Education operates the PBSD, and Key acts as the district board.

The PBSD hopes to install a limited-authority school board by the start of the 2022-23 school year.

In the selected drawing, Zone 1 covers communities in the northern part of Jefferson County including Sherrill and Tucker. Zone 2 includes communities in the eastern portion including Altheimer, Wabbaseka and Noble Lake.

Many of those communities were part of the Dollarway School District, which was annexed into the PBSD last July. The annexation and the 2020 census prompted the redrawing of the zones.

Zones 3-7 cover a large portion of Pine Bluff and extends down to the Pinebergen community, with an unattached portion of Zone 3 circling the Hardin community.

Print Headline: Official adopts board’s scenario


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