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OPINION | CHARLINE WRIGHT: Pine Bluff School District raises concerns

September 17, 2022 at 3:03 a.m.


E ditor, The Commercial:

We, PBSD Concerned Stakeholders for Consolidation, have expressed our concerns with state Education Department Secretary Johnny Key and the state Board of Education for the past 18 months. After the state Board of Education work session Thursday, we had several concerns.

We reviewed the Overview of Governing Scenarios that was given to Dollarway Stakeholders in November 2020 prior to annexation and Exhibit 2 from the state Board of Education work session Dec. 1, 2020. We have communicated our concerns to Secretary Key, Superintendent Barbara Warren, Stacy Smith and the entire state Board.

We were concerned why the state Board of Education was discussing an elected limited board when an appointed limited board decision was made in November 2020 and December 2020.

We were also concerned why they were discussing the limited authority of the appointed board when it was determined and communicated in Exhibit 2, Dec. 1, 2020, as the Considerations for Local Leaders in the Overview of Governing Scenarios for Annexation for the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts.

We are also concerned Exhibit 2, the Finance and Operations Implications, in the Annexation Governing Scenarios the Cons.: are being ignored which will contribute to the fiscal distress of the Pine Bluff School District. Not merging the Dollarway High and Middle School campus is contributing to our inability to meet Exit 5 and fiscal distress criteria and it minimizes our cost savings.

Another concern is that ADE has had 14 months to determine that the maintenance of the Dollarway High and Middle School and not merging the workforce is prohibiting the balancing of the budget and increases the need for waivers to staff in the PBSD district which will be used against PBSD similar to Helena-West Helena.

After reviewing the recently published communication of the overall strategic plan, we are concerned that the emphasis is not on the exit criteria of Level 5 and fiscal distress criteria. Reflecting back to 2020, Mrs. Warren stated that she spent two years on culture in the Dollarway School District, which ultimately resulted in their failure to meet fiscal and Level 5 exit criteria. Mrs. Warren has spent two years on culture again, in the PBSD. Mrs. Warren made no mention in the work session of the status of the PBSD Level 5 and fiscal distress, only an update of the PBHS facilities.

We are concerned that Deputy Commissioner Smith communicated to the state Board of Education that Mrs. Warren had their complete vote of confidence; hopefully their confidence is not that we will not complete Exit 5 nor fiscal distress criteria. Since our denial of consolidation, the annexation leadership has been promoting culture in the PBSD with no mention of what is needed to meet exit criteria for level 5 and fiscal distress.

A final concern is that if Mrs. Warren was not wanting a limited authority board in July 2021, "stating she did not want to deal with the silliest of the PBSD Stakeholders" and creating a Strategic Planning Committee -- whether this has denied the district of having a limited appointed authority board at this present time.

Charline Wright, chairperson,

PBSD Concerned Stakeholders for Consolidation


Print Headline: PBSD raises concerns

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