The Pulaski County Special School District could build as many as five new schools and renovate two others with proceeds from a proposed $181 million bond program outlined last week by superintendent Charles Hopson.

Hopson told trustees last week that the district would save enough money by closing some schools and consolidating several others to pay annual debt service on the bonds.

Derek Scott, executive director of operations, said the school district could complete the work in phases over six to eight years.

Scott said the district has more buildings than it did 15 years ago, when enrollment totaled 4,000 students than it does now.

The drop in enrollment cost the district $24 million in aid from Arkansas this year, Scott said.

The preliminary proposal calls for closing one high school, combining two others, and consolidating a number of elementary schools in the Jacksonville area and in eastern Pulaski County. New facilities include a high school, two elementary schools and middle school.

Scott said a final building program will be developed with input from public meetings across the district.

The Pulaski County Special School District has some 18,000 students. It serves areas of Pulaski County outside Little Rock and North Little Rock, and portions of Lonoke, Saline, and Faulkner counties.

The district's debt, which is covered by the state's school bond enhancement program, is rated A by Standard & Poor's and A1 by Moody's Investors Service.

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