Little Rock, AR—Pulaski County Special School District is looking to consolidate, close, and create new schools. It's part of a district-wide proposal to try and improve schools and save money.
"I'm sitting here shaking my leg trying to stay calm about this. I just can't support that," said School Board member for Zone7, Gwen Williams when she saw the drafted plan included closing Harris Elementary.
It's titled "Vision 20/20". It targets areas in the school district like Robinson, Jacksonville, and Southeast Pulaski. The would build 4 new schools, renovate 2, and close more than 5 schools.
"You just can not maintain everything that we have," said Executive Director of Operations, Derek Scott. Scott was hired by Superintendent Charles Hopson back in July. He has never worked in a school district, but did fiscal planning in the Airforce for more than 30 years.
"We have more infrastructure today than we had back in 1994 and we have 4,000 less students today than we had in 1994," said Scott. He said, "My first weekend in the district when I was looking to see if I wanted the job. It's hard not to cry in front of the kids when you see some of the conditions that they're in."
He said by closing schools, the district will save enough on administration and maintenance costs so that renovations and building new schools will not force a millage increase.
"The schools we're talking about are at least 45 yrs. old or older," said School Board President, Zone 6, Bill Vasquez.
He said job cuts are inevitable either way because of the financial situation the district is in.
"If we don't mend our ways and change our habits, then we'll soon be in fiscal distress," said Vaquez.
The proposal is in it's infancy and the board will decide tomorrow on how to collect community input on the plan.