Education notebook – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Freer board hailed by teachers union

The Little Rock Education Association is among the organizations and individuals celebrating the lifting last week of state restrictions on Little Rock School Board authority.

Those restrictions or guardrails, which were imposed until the district exited Level 5 of the state accountability system, barred the School Board from recognizing the Little Rock Education Association for contract bargaining.

Association President Teresa Knapp Gordon said in a prepared statement that the systemic and curricular changes that occurred in the district and resulted in its exit from Level 5 were the result of efforts by teachers.

“Those changes and that work happened because our LREA educators have been and continue to be committed to doing all that they can to ensure that every student in the LRSD receives a world class education,” Gordon said. “Without the LREA, the district most likely would have been dismantled and privatized.”

Gordon said the association has worked to elect a School Board and to elect members of the new personnel policy committee. It is now working for a new salary plan and will work for voter approval of a property tax extension should one be put on the ballot later this year.

“The LREA is still intact and even without the opportunity to be recognized by the LRSD officially, we continue to work together with LRSD leadership to ensure that we are providing the best possible educational opportunities for our students,” Gordon said.

Ignite academies deadline extended

The Little Rock School District is extending what had been a mid-July deadline for parents to register their children for the district’s Ignite Digital Academies for elementary and secondary school students

Superintendent Mike Poore said last week that parents will have until the Aug. 16 start of the 2021-22 school year to select remote instruction programs for their kindergarten-through- 12th-grade students.

In another change, the district will allow students who choose the Ingite Academies to transfer to a traditional school at the end of the semester. Previously the district sought a one-year commitment from families to the remote learning program.

Poore announced the changes at a School Board meeting last week during which new Deputy Superintendent Keith McGee reported to the board on efforts that are underway to modify the district’s Ready For Learning plan. The revised plan is to address how the district will operate schools in the coming school year in light of the continued covid-19 pandemic.

District staffers are also working with the Personnel Policies Committee to draft a policy for sick leave for employees who are exposed to or are ill with covid-19.

State Teach Plus gets new director

Stacey McAdoo, a Little Rock School District employee and 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, has been selected to be director of Teach Plus Arkansas, an affiliate of the Teach Plus national nonprofit organization that works to empower teachers to lead improvements in education policy and practice.

McAdoo, a member of Teach Plus’ inaugural Arkansas Teacher Policy Advisory Board, will lead the organization’s policy and teacher leadership work in the state. That will include initiating the first cohort of Teach Plus Arkansas Policy Fellows in August.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join Teach Plus and to work with teachers from across our state in advocating for systemic changes that directly improve the lives of their students,” McAdoo said. “By elevating teacher voice, building relationships and engaging with our communities, I hope to raise awareness of the critical issues classroom practitioners and students face and to bring forth teacher-informed solutions.”

Maumelle schools’ principals exiting

The principals at Maumelle Middle and Maumelle High schools have accepted new positions outside of the Pulaski County Special School District, creating vacancies in the two school leader positions, the Pulaski County Special School District announced.

Ryan Burgess, principal at Maumelle Middle has been selected to be the State Leadership Development Coach with the Arkansas Department of Education.

Preston Echols, an assistant junior high principal in the Conway School District, is being recommended to the Pulaski County Special district School Board for the Maumelle Middle School job.

Maumelle High Principal Jeff Senn has been selected to be the superintendent of schools for the Lonoke School District.