Tuesday, October 04, 2016

TOP STORY >> New site approved for school

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board unanimously voted to relocate the planned new elementary school Monday evening from land on Little Rock Air Force Base to nearby land at the corner of General Samuels and Harris roads and authorized the purchase of four acres adjacent to Tolleson Elementary School upon which to build it.

The new acreage, which will cost $63,150, plus closing costs, will allow construction of the district’s first new elementary school, slated to open in August 2018, but without federal aid.

Students who would otherwise attend Tolleson and Arnold Drive elementary schools will attend the new elementary when completed.

Superintendent Tony Wood said students could continue at Tolleson even as the new school is constructed.

Because the new site has more usable acreage, the district will have the option of building a one-story school instead of on the base, which had less usable acreage.

For about five years, officials first at the Pulaski County Special School District, then at JNPSD, worked with Defense Department officials to obtain a grant of about $8 million to help replace Arnold Drive Elementary School, where a lot of military dependents attend. That would have been about half of the $16 million estimated cost of a new elementary school this size.


Since the last board meeting, it became apparent that all available money this round is headed to 32 California schools and the JNPSD elementary was 33rd on the list, Wood said. It also seemed more economical to build on the newly acquired land outside the fence, and there were concerns that a lease of the Air Force land might not be executed in time to begin construction, he said.

Site work would have been expensive and extensive, he said.

At the corner of Harris and General Samuels, the new school would have “better egress and ingress, better visibility and more bang for the buck,” Wood said.

In February, voters passed a 7.6-mill property tax increase to pay for a new high school and elementary school.


The new acreage will give the elementary school 14 total acres between General Samuels on the south and Jacksonville Middle School on the north.

Engineer Tommy Bond, also involved in the lead up to the purchase, said there were two possible building sites on that land.

WER Architects of Little Rock will design the new elementary and already have begun preliminary work on the design of the new high school on Main Street at the site of the old Boys and Girls Middle Schools. Design will be pretty general until after the state Legislature commits matching money to state schools on May 1.


In other action, the board will give its required annual report to the public at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7, the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

Also scheduled is a 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 work session on new school construction scheduled.

First-ever graduation from the new school district is slated for 7:30 p.m. May 20 at the Jack Stephens Center on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus.

Wood told the board that while the district can’t afford to increase the salary schedule yet, he thought they could afford bonuses for all employees.

The board asked him to bring some recommendations and cost projections to the next meeting.


He said bonuses, for instance, of $500 for full-time employees would cost the district about $250,000. In addition to deciding if and how much bonuses would be, the board would also decide whether to award them before Christmas, in spring or when.

He said the district can’t afford raises, which would establish a new baseline for salaries, but that bonuses would be one-time shows of appreciation for the hard work all had done getting the new district off the ground.

The district is providing 1,000 more free breakfasts a day for students than last year and 500 more lunches.


Licensed employees hired were Christopher Johnson, secondary education, and Bobbi Obai, dyslexia interventionist.

Strawberry Adams, Angie Luehrs and Inez Matheson were hired as cafeteria workers.

Bus drivers hired: Larry Akins, Junero Block, Brenda Broadway and Dennis Dodd.

Custodians hired: Jacob Aloi, Heather Anson, Eliot Egbert, Steven Hall, Michael Lee, Frank Thiele, Georgia Williams and Eric Worden.

Others hired: security officer James Curly; Mallory LaColezat, culinary para-professional; Meredith McGinty, lead nurse; Kristie Newborn, behavior interventionist and Allyson Penrod, physical therapist.

The board accepted resignations from cafeteria workers Kaylee Dagen, Valerie Pickins and Jacqueline Wallace; Tandy Jackson, an elementary teacher; consumer-science teacher Rachel Beene; physical therapist Angela Evans; secondary English teacher Carrie Lee and speech therapist Sarita Sanford.

Dismissed for job abandonment were custodians Joshua Collins, William Dove, Christopher Hill and Xavier White, and para-professional Rickeal Nelson.