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Sherwood mulls new school district

Trying to split off from the Pulaski County Special School is becoming an increasingly popular trend in Pulaski County.

The Sherwood City Council Monday adopted a resolution to support the idea of conducting a feasibility study of an independent Sherwood School District and for the formation of a committee with the goal of creation such a school district.

“The city of Sherwood is dedicated to the support of all citizens and an integral and essential part of that support is providing the best educational opportunities for our children,” reads the resolution. “Enhancement of educational opportunities has been identified as one of the most important aspects of economic development … and the current status of the Pulaski County Special School District compels action of this nature at this time to provide the necessary information to the state that supports an independent district for the city.”

The establishment of an independent Sherwood School District is not a new one. About five years ago, Mayor Bill Harmon expressed an interest for Sherwood to create its own school district and to split apart from PCSSD.

Harmon made calls for a committee to study the issue. However, the idea did not progress any future at the time than preliminary discussion stages. Harmon’s comments came during a time that the PCSSD was facing the prospect of Jacksonville wanting to form its own district, too.

The desire to form a school district for Jacksonville is nothing new to some people, according to a report released recently about the feasibility of potentially creating a Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District.

“Leaders in the Jacksonville community have worked to establish an independent school district in the Jacksonville area since the late 1960s,” states the report called “A Feasibility Study for a Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District detached from the Pulaski County Special School District.”

The report was prepared for the Jacksonville Education Foundation Inc. Its author is Winston F. Simpson, Ed.D. “The effort began in response to the view that the affairs of the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) were in disarray.”

At that time, the Jacksonville Jaycees and Southwest Little Rock Jaycees began a campaign to seek the resignation of some members of the PCSSD school board.

“Four of the eight board members and the superintendent resigned,” states the report. “It was thought that this change in leadership personalities in the PCSSD would change matters for the better. It did not.”

Community members headed an effort to establish a separate school district for the Jacksonville area.

“To date, efforts to establish a new school district in the Jacksonville area have not succeeded. The people involved have changed over the years but the effort continues,” states the report.

The affairs of the PCSSD were in such disarray in June 2011 that the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) dissolved the school board of the PCSSD and dismissed its superintendent.

The problems with the PCSSD are part of the reason the Jacksonville-North Pulaski area should be granted their own school district according to the report.

“The Commissioner of Education services as the PCSSD school board, and he has appointed a superintendent,” the report said. “The time is right for the formation of a school district in the Jacksonville area.”

Current leaders in the effort to form a school district in the Jacksonville area believe that the community is better positioned to provide excellent educational opportunities for students in their area than the PCSSD.

“That belief is based on the view that the new district will be composed of a citizenry with an established sense of community focused on the Jacksonville area and the Little Rock Air Force Base,” states the report. “The new district would include approximately 100 contiguous square miles containing one incorporated city. The PCSSD is comprised of approximately 730 square miles that includes all or parts of several incorporated cities.”

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