Little Rock School District voters elect a new member

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.

Anna Strong’s path to election Tuesday to the Little Rock School Board’s Zone 5 seat took an unusual twist, but she won in the contest with Donnally Davis whose name remained on the ballot despite withdrawing from the race weeks ago.

As a result, Davis could not win the race but Strong could lose it if she received fewer votes than Davis.

Complete but unofficial results were:

Anna Strong … 547

Donnally Davis … 14

Also on Tuesday, Little Rock School Board member Vicki Hatter was re-elected in an uncontested race for the Zone 6 seat representing central Little Rock.

The Pulaski County Election Commission will meet on Nov. 28 to certify the election results.

Strong, 42, the mother of two young sons and the executive director of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, will replace Ali Noland in the Zone 5 seat that encompasses north-central Little Rock.

The School Board terms are for five years and are unpaid.

“I have so much gratitude for the people who took time out of their busy lives to go vote — almost 600 people voted and that means a lot,” Strong said late Tuesday. “Part of the reason I campaigned as much as I did — in addition to the unusual circumstances — was really to get people excited and engaged in LRSD.”

Strong said public schools are critically important to all facets of a community.

“I believe in the Little Rock School District. I’m not saying that we don’t have tough decisions ahead of us, but I believe in public education and I believe it has a place in our community.”

She said she can’t promise that her every vote will make people happy or will even be the right vote.

“I promise I will make thoughtful, informed decisions that keep kids at the center like I have done in my career and in my job and in my day to day role as a parent,” Strong said.

Strong has been elected 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.

Before the election, Strong said she wanted the district to think creatively about how to expand early childhood education seats for the city’s youngest children. She also described herself as an advocate for more community schools that offer support to the families of students and for promoting positive mental health for students and educators.

Strong reported raising $13,856 for her campaign.

Also Tuesday, voters were given the opportunity to vote on the district’s current 46.4 mill property tax rate for which no change was proposed. The Arkansas Constitution requires an annual vote on a school district’s tax rate.

The complete and unofficial results for the Little Rock School District:

For tax … 635

Against tax … 107

Elsewhere

In the North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts, incumbent candidates — one per district — were re-elected when they cast votes for themselves.

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

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

As a result, the two districts conducted what is called “an election by candidate” when they went to the Pulaski County Administration Building to cast votes for themselves and to vote on their districts’ millage rate.

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

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