School elections underway in several Arkansas districts Tuesday

FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.
FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.

Polling places are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Little Rock School Board’s Zone 5 where Anna Strong is actively seeking election to the board seat in a contest from which her only opponent withdrew.


Additionally, Little Rock School Board incumbent Vicki Hatter is unopposed in her bid for re-election to the district’s Zone 6 seat, representing central Little Rock. However, no polling places will be opened in Zone 6 nor in other zones in which the only ballot issue is an annual vote on the district’s 46.4-mill property tax rate for which no change is proposed.

People who want to vote on Hatter and/or the millage rate can do so Tuesday at the Pulaski County Administration Building, 501 West Markham St.

Strong, the married mother of two young sons and the executive director of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is seeking election to a five-year, unpaid term from north-central Little Rock. The seat is currently held by Ali Noland, who did not file as a candidate for re-election and endorsed Strong to be her successor.

Donnally Davis also filed as a candidate for the Zone 5 seat Aug. 16 but announced Aug. 18 that she would not pursue the seat even though her name would be on the ballot.

As a result, Davis cannot win the election but she can prevent Strong from getting the board seat, according to Pulaski County Election Coordinator Amanda Dickens.

In the event that Davis receives more votes than Strong, the Zone 5 seat will be declared vacant and will continue to be held by current board member Noland. If Noland chooses to resign from the seat, the eight remaining School Board members would have to appoint someone to fill the seat until the 2024 school election in the 19,952-student district.

Strong, 42, said Monday that board service will build on her 15 -year career in child advocacy and policy.

“Our school boards are where politics hits home,” Strong said. “I hope Zone 5 voters will … allow me the opportunity to serve our neighborhoods’ children and children across Little Rock.

Strong is seeking election at a time when the School Board is facing decisions on how to cut as much as $15 million in expenses in the 2024-25 school year while at the same time competing for student enrollment with a growing number of open-enrollment charter schools and with private schools . Act 237 of 2023 enables families to access state funding to pay private school tuition and other affiliated costs.

“I look forward to encouraging the district to think creatively to expand early childhood offerings to develop more community schools that support basic needs for families and to support positive mental health for educators and students across the district,” Strong said in an email.

“To achieve positive academic outcomes, the board must ensure a fiscally sound district and support excellence in classrooms, in schools and at the central office,” she said.

Strong reported raising $13,856 for her campaign.

Elsewhere

There will be almost no voting at all today in the North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts where incumbent candidates — one per district — will fill be alone in filling out ballots.

The incumbent board members — Angela Person-West in North Little Rock’s Zone 4 seat and Wendy Potter in the Pulaski Special district’s Zone 5 seat — filed as candidates for re-election in August. They drew no opponents.

Additionally, neither district is asking voters for a change in their school tax rates.

As a result, the two districts are conducting what is called “an election by candidate.”

Each of the incumbents are to visit the Pulaski County Administration Building to cast votes for themselves and to vote on their districts’ millage rates.

Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District holds its annual school board/millage election in the spring of each year.