Trustees of the Pulaski County Special School District last week established the boundaries for a new district to serve Jacksonville, but will not proceed further until a federal court declares the district is no longer segregated.
The Pulaski County district recently issued $81.4 million of general obligation bonds to finance new schools in Sherwood and Maumelle, The project list did not include work on district facilities in the Little Rock suburb of Jacksonville.
In approving the bonds, trustees stipulated that Jacksonville residents would not be required to support the debt if a new district is carved out for the city. 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.
Trustees in September 2008 approved a plan to detach Jacksonville from the county school district.
Setting the boundaries is just the beginning of the process of forming a separate school district for Jacksonville. Sponsors must obtain signatures of at least 10% of the voters in favor of a new district, and get approval from the federal court and the Arkansas Board of Education.
The proposed new district would encompass 12 existing school campuses, including North Pulaski and Jacksonville high schools. It would have some 4,500 students, based on current enrollment.
The county district asked to be declared desegregated in 2007. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller has set a status conference on the request for Sept. 30.
The special school district currently has some 18,000 students. It serves all of Pulaski County, except for Little Rock and North Little Rock, and portions of Lonoke, Saline, and Faulkner counties.