State Board of Education news in brief
Two districts shed fiscal distress label The Maynard and Lee County school districts are no longer classified as districts in…
Two districts shed fiscal distress label
The Maynard and Lee County school districts are no longer classified as districts in fiscal distress.
The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday voted to relieve the two districts of the label after the Department of Education staff verified that the districts had corrected financial problems that had resulted in the classification.
The Maynard district in Randolph County was put into the state’s fiscal distress program in May 2015. Since then the district has taken steps to more efficiently staff the district, in part by hiring teachers who are certified to teach more than one subject. Other measures included restructuring its purchasing system so that all spending is centrally monitored.
Pat Rawlings is superintendent of the Maynard district.
The Lee County district has been classified as fiscally distressed since 2014. The district’s steps included hiring a financial consultant to provide training and assistance, a reduction in staff, employment of teachers with dual certification, restructured bus routes for staffing efficiency and reduced spending on maintenance supplies.
Antony Hobbs Jr. is the new superintendent in Lee County.
Board OKs waivers for size of districts
The Kirby and Strong-Huttig school districts on Thursday received waivers from the state Board of Education that will enable the districts to continue to operate despite enrollments that fall under the 350-student minimum set in state law.
Arkansas Code Annotated 6-13-1603 requires districts that have fallen under 350 in the preceding two years to be consolidated with or annexed to another school district unless the state Board grants a waiver.
That is allowed by Arkansas Code Annotated 6-13-1613, which was passed by lawmakers in 2015. The state Board shall grant the petition for a size waiver if the petitioning district can show that its school system is not in fiscal, academic or facilities distress and is not violating state accreditation standards.
The Kirby district has an enrollment of about 344 students, not counting 12 preschool pupils. The district is not in fiscal distress, nor has it been in academic distress, Superintendent Pike Palmer wrote in the district’s petition for the district size waiver.
The Strong-Huttig district, which has a student count of about 300, received the district-minimum size waiver last year but must seek it annually. Education Board members questioned whether such a small district has adequate financial resources and is able to offer the minimum 38 high school courses required by state standards.
Superintendent Jeff Alphin said the district offers more than 38 courses. Cindy Smith, the Education Department’s coordinator of fiscal support office, said she has been amazed by the district’s ability to maintain year-end balances in excess of $600,000, a feat difficult for some districts twice Strong-Huttig’s size to accomplish.
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette State Board of Education news in brief