As the long awaited settlement to the school desegregation case winds its way through the legal system, could that open a path to Maumelle becoming its own school district?
Not yet, and not anytime soon, said Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
First, he said Tuesday afternoon, that the proposed four-year agreement must be completed and the money situation be settled. He specifically said Maumelle, Sherwood and anyone else would be barred from moving toward separation from the district until the agreement has ended and been satisfied.
That won’t stop Jacksonville and its efforts though, as McDaniel said that city’s efforts to create a new school district can continue.
Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman was among those in attendance at the court hearing on Tuesday.
Currently the Pulaski County Special School District is under state control and operating without a school board.
Ending that state control will be one of the things that need to happen before the other cities in Pulaski County could even consider forming a new school district.
Former county school board president Tim Clark, of Maumelle, and it was under his watch that Maumelle got its new high school and Pulaski Oak Grove closed.
Clark praised the efforts of city alderman Preston Lewis, who has taken the lead on Maumelle becoming its own school district.
“Settlement in the desegregation case can only be a positive for a Maumelle School District,” Lewis said. “While I see no direct impact, I do see a possible settlement as clearing some of the legal obstacles. Certainly issues still remain in lieu of [the county’s] unitary status and reaching a point to satisfy some of the initial objectives of the desegregation lawsuit, but putting the desegregation funding issue on a pathway to completion is a positive. The specific mention of Jacksonville as part of the lawsuit is a positive for anyone who believes in a community school district. I’m excited for Jacksonville.”
Lewis said that having Maumelle and the other cities, “unwillingly locked into a distressed district isn’t sensible.”
Rob Moritz contributed to this report.