Tonight’s parent teacher organizational meeting about seeking a separate independent school district for Maumelle is only the beginning of a long journey.
Whether or not it’s successful will depend as much on outside influences the residents of Maumelle have no control over as much as their determination to have their own district.
When and if the federal courts rule the current Pulaski County Special School District unitary is still a big question. For the court it’s more a matter of documenting what the district is doing and what they have legally ordered them to do more than anything else. And up until recently they haven’t been real big on complying with that documentation as they should have been.
Also with the state having a firm grip on the district with the head of the state’s education department serving as the sole board member and having a superintendent chosen by him, the state is clearly in the driver’s seat steering this huge PCSSD district in the direction it’s going.
But like the massive creature it is it’s more like that huge ocean liner where course corrections are small and take a long time to even point the thing in the direction you want it to go.
The Jacksonville community has worked hard on establishing its own district for about the last twenty years and its put a lot of manpower and resources — money — into that plan.
Yet its establishment is contingent upon the same factors a new Maumelle district is — namely the federal courts sign-off and then approval from the state board of education.
Even with all those hurdles accomplished, the physical reality and splitting resources — schools, money, debt, buses, teachers and of course students is still a major sticking point.
As the most affluent community in the district, Maumelle should be poised to catch up with Jacksonville if its residents really want to.
But many are complacent about the prospects, having so many choices in private schools and their own charter school in Academics Plus right here in Maumelle.
Many of the movers and shakers in this area could care less but there’s a lot more that goes with having your own district than just a name.
With the addition of Maumelle High School — thanks mostly to the negotiation skills of former school board member Tim Clark who made it happen when opposition developed and to a lessor extinct, his predecessor Pam Roberts and then Superintendent James Sharpe who placed a new school to replace the aging Oak Grove institution on the priority list — Maumelle for the first time in its existence has a high school it can call its own, brag about and be loyal to.
Alderman Preston Lewis has generated a lot of support for a new school district. Whether it will last through the trying times and all the hoops they have to jump through to make this happen, not to mention the planets being aligned just so so — is yet to be decided.
Only time will tell but you’ll never get anywhere until you start and they’ve done that.
— Bill Lawson