Friday, September 12, 2014

TOP STORY >> District decision Tuesday

Leader staff writer

As of 5 p.m. Friday, 1,498 people had voted this week on detaching from the Pulaski County Special School District to form a standalone Jacksonville/North Pulaski school district ahead of the election on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Daniel Gray, spokesman for Education Corps, the group campaigning for the detachment, was pleased with the turnout.

Supporters say the new district will keep tax revenues in the community, be under local control, expand curriculum and improve facilities.

“I think people are excited to finally be able to vote for this issue. It’s been a long time coming…I hope that momentum continues through Tuesday night. Let’s knock this one out of the park,” Gray said.

He added that a watch party would be held Tuesday at the Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive, from 7 p.m. until the results are announced.

Early voting was held this week at the community center, the William F. Laman Library and the Pulaski County Regional Building at 501 W. Markham St.

Monday is the last day of early voting, and polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pulaski County Regional Building. The polls at the other locations will not be open.

None of the polls will be open for early voting today and tomorrow.

The proposed district includes Homer Adkins Pre-K, Bayou Meto, Murrell Taylor, Pinewood, Tolleson, Arnold Drive and Warren Dupree elementary schools; Jacksonville Middle School, Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski High School.

Only residents inside the proposed district’s boundaries can vote on the detachment.

The polls open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Election Day polling sites — the same ones used for general elections — are:

 Bayou Meto Baptist Church at 26200 Hwy. 107 for precinct 26;

 McArthur Assembly of God Church at 3501 John Harden Drive for precinct 27;

 Kellogg Valley Baptist Church at 9516 Bamboo Lane for precinct 28;

 Jacksonville Community Center at 5 Municipal Drive for precincts 29, 30 and 33;

 First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge at 14322 Hwy. 107 for precinct 32;

 St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church at 2403 McArthur Drive for precinct 34;

 The Venue at Chapel Hill at 1408 Madden Road for precinct 35;

 First Presbyterian Church at 1208 W. Main St. for precinct 36;

 First Baptist Church at 401 N. First St. for precinct 37;

 Jacksonville Senior Activity and Wellness Center at 100 Victory Circle for precincts 38 and 45;

 Indianhead Lake Baptist Church at 8601 Indianhead Drive for precinct 44;

 Berea Baptist Church at 104 E. Valentine Road for precincts 46 and 47;

 Harris Elementary School at 4424 E. Valentine Road for precinct 48.

The millage question that will be alongside the detachment on the Tuesday ballot is a formality required to renew the current rate of 40.7 mills.

If voters approve of the detachment as expected, taxpayers in the new school district will still be paying 40.7 mills, unless they vote to increase that rate in a future election.

If the detachment is approved, the law allows for up to a two-year transition period. Until the actual separation, interim PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess will lead both districts.

Gray has said previously that the 2014-15 school year would be transitional.

On a related note, applications for an interim seven-member advisory board will be accepted through Sept. 30 by a committee of elected officials that will make recommendations to the state Board of Education.

Applications are available at

Serving on the committee are state Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville), state Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock), state Rep. Doug House (R-North Little Rock), state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot), state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), Pulaski County JP Bob Johnson and Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher.

The advisory board will be appointed at the state board’s Oct. 9 meeting.

Its members will have the opportunity to appoint an interim superintendent and be charged with guiding the new district in negotiations with PCSSD over the division of assets, like school buses and computers, as well as personnel.