Friday, April 26, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Sherwood also wants to split

The Sherwood City Council on Monday kicked off an effort to leave the Pulaski County Special School District and form an independent school district.

Critics who say enrollment in Sherwood’s schools doesn’t meet the minimum numbers required to split from PCSSD should take another look at the numbers.

State law requires any new district to have at least 4,000 students and the district it is breaking away from must have at least 4,000 students. PCSSD has more than 17,000 students.

Jacksonville also has the required numbers, but it would have to show a federal judge that its proposed district would be fully integrated.

Sherwood schools have an enrollment of 4,497, according to the most recent count released by PCSSD on March 14. That’s more than enough to leave the district.

A Sherwood district would also be 43.6 percent black, which is within the acceptable federal range for desegregation, according to our reporter Sarah Campbell.

Campbell explains that is important because PCSSD has yet to achieve unitary status — meaning it is not considered fully integrated. Any new district would have to receive approval from the federal court to split from PCSSD, which is 45.4 percent black, according to the March 14 count.

A Jacksonville school district would be 50 percent black, according to Campbell.

If both Jacksonville and Sherwood split from PCSSD, the old district would be left with 8,615 students, and 43.9 percent of that enrollment would be black. That is also within the acceptable range for desegregation.

A Jacksonville group is collecting signatures on a petition that would put to a vote whether the city should have its own school district. Sherwood is just forming a committee to explore how it can form a new district. It wouldn’t surprise us if Sherwood residents will also soon start collecting petitions calling for an election that would decide the future of yet another independent school district. We wish them both well.