Wednesday, October 19, 2005

EDITORIAL >> District to city: drop dead

The Pulaski County Special School District, which has been adrift for years, both academically and financially, is about to slap Jacksonville residents in the face once again: The district, which, according to the state, is in “fiscal distress” — basically bankrupt — hopes to improve its financial standing by closing two of the elementary schools that have seen enrollment drop.

Nine elementary schools have fewer than 300 students, including four in Jacksonville: Arnold Drive, Homer Adkins, Tolleson and Warren Dupree. Most likely to close are Harris Elementary, a magnet school in the McAlmont community, and Scott Elementary. They serve even smaller student populations than the Jacksonville schools.

There are people around here who say the district is punishing Jacksonville for its unsuccessful effort last year to form its own school district.
Problems at the single-gender Jacksonville middle schools will be discussed when the Jacksonville City Council convenes Thursday. On Tuesday, speaking to one of our reporters, Mayor Tommy Swaim lashed out at the district for failing to serve the city’s schools.
While neighboring districts, particularly Cabot, continue to see growing enrollment (due, no doubt, to white flight, but not entirely) and the construction of new schools and state-of-the-art athletic facilities, the Pulaski County District is looking at the possibility of a state takeover, which may not be all that bad in view of the district’s dismal performance thus far.

If PCSSD thinks it can regain solvency by eliminating schools in north Pulaski County, then area residents might well renew their efforts to secede. If parents can show that their children’s constitutional rights have been violated because of the inadequate education they receive, then a second attempt at independence might be in order.