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Education notebook: Education panel’s seat goes to Zook

by Cynthia Howell | September 11, 2022 at 3:21 a.m.

Education panel's seat goes to Zook

Diane Zook, an educator and former member and chair of the Arkansas Board of Education, is Gov. Asa Hutchinson's latest appointment to the Southern Regional Education Board.

The Atlanta-based non-profit organization works to improve public education at all levels in its 16 member states. The organization provides data and recommendations to policymakers, coordinates the sharing of resources and offers training to educators. The organization board is made up of the governor and four governor-appointees from each state.

"Diane has served students of all ages through many different positions," Hutchinson said. "She has been a blessing to the state of Arkansas and to all the people who have been impacted by her passion for education. Diane will provide the SREB with expertise in improving education."

Zook, of Little Rock and Melbourne, was a teacher at Henderson Middle School in Little Rock, at the Rockefeller Demonstration School in Morrilton and at the Child Study Center on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus.

She was a Court Appointed Special Advocate in the 16th District Court, served on the board of Manna House (a food and clothing bank) and the Foundation Board of Ozarka College in Melbourne, and helped work with the General Assembly on education issues.

She was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2013 and served as chairman in 2019-20.

Cabot school again denied charter bid

The Arkansas Board of Education voted last week to uphold the state Charter Authorizing Panel's earlier decision to deny a state charter for the proposed Omni Classical Prep in Cabot.

The state education board has the final say on applications for charters, or contracts, from non-profit organizations and traditional school districts after the authorizing panel reviews the proposals. The state education board has the option of accepting panel recommendations or conducting its own review before making a final decision.

The authorizing panel voted 4-2 in August to deny the charter application, telling school planners that there were gaps in the school's financial plan, special education services, administrative chain of command and career education offerings.

School chief urges more time for Hall

Little Rock Superintendent Jermall Wright is suggesting that the district's three-year commitment to Hall High School and its specialty science, math and arts program be extended.

"There is an upward momentum with Hall's enrollment in the current school year," Wright wrote to School Board members. "The administration at Hall is actively recruiting and branding Hall to attract additional students and families."

But he warned that the momentum could be jeopardized without a commitment to go beyond the initial three years, of which the school is in year two. Parents and students could be deterred from enrolling if they think the program won't continue, he said.

Reaching an enrollment of 500 students by 2025-26 could signal sustainability for the school, although it would still be smaller than the district's other high schools, Wright said.

Hall's enrollment is 308 this year, up from 259 last year, according to district data. Wright suggested that the targeted enrollment be 375 for 2023-24 and 425 in 2024-25.

The School Board could vote later this month on an extended commitment to operate Hall.

Board to vote on safe-gun measure

The Little Rock School Board is expected to vote later this month on a proposed resolution that calls for families to prioritize the secure storage of firearms in their homes as a way to promote school safety.

The draft resolution calls for updates to the district's student handbook to include information about secure storage of firearms.

The resolution, if approved, would also direct the superintendent to annually send a letter -- in both English and Spanish-- to parents and guardians that explains the importance of secure gun storage.

Print Headline: Education panel’s seat goes to Zook Cabot school again denied charter bid School chief urges more time for Hall Board to vote on safe-gun measure

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