LRSD Community Blueprint survey is found at the link below
Please remember that the deadline for completing the survey is Wednesday, December 19th. Thank you for taking time to share your input.
Our hope for this process is that student achievement will improve, parent involvement will increase, the community and business supporters will engage more meaningfully, and the financial resources will be available to elevate the Little Rock public schools, families and local economy.
What is at Stake? The Future Preparation of our Community
All children deserve the opportunity to learn in quality environments and grow their motivation. We have opportunities to speed up the remodeling and revitalization of LRSD so the community can be sure we have the best learning spaces to prepare our future leaders for the problems of tomorrow.
What are we shooting for?
High performing school systems are like powerful “charging stations” where all children get the cognitive, social, and emotional skills they need and the workforce preparedness to drive their futures. The Little Rock School District’s intent is to make sure every child gets to charge up for a good future here.
What outcomes are we trying to improve?
We believe the following six indicators should be expectations that our entire community has for each of our schools and our school district. We must focus on delivering equitably these key outcomes in order to prepare every child to fulfill their potential:
- Learning environments and quality facilities
- Expanded options for parents and students from birth to grade 12
- Increased supports for teachers and staff
- More widespread academic growth, achievement levels and success beyond high school
- Expanded enrollment as a school of choice
- Stable finances with flexibility to invest in more innovation and improvement
What threatens these outcomes?
- Aging Facilities. The average age of our school buildings is approximately 60 years. Given that reality, we know there will need to be a continual investment in school facilities to support our students.
- The public school enrollment has been on a multi-year downward trend, and it’s uneven throughout the district with several zones losing population. We have to turn this around by investing in our schools, both the buildings and the student experiences in those buildings, so parents will trust us to educate and inspire their children.
- Some schools are jam-packed and a several are underutilized. We have regions in our city where we have a loss of students as well as increased competition. We have to use our facilities wisely.
- We just completed extensive improvements in many structures, recreation facilities and energy use but we have over $300 million in remaining upgrades on our priority menu. We face a growing threat from Charters who have resources to purchase and redevelop outdated buildings if we don’t use our resources to better the whole community.
- While other schools may have high churn rates of teachers, in the LRSD we have a wealth of well-trained, highly motivated and experienced teachers who are key to attracting students and parents. We are challenged in recruiting new teachers especially as we approach retirements of our highly trained teaching pros. We want to attract more young and innovative teachers into our system who will join this powerful cadre of professional teachers.
- Despite significant progress and collaboration, we have much to do to lift grade-level achievement. Every day, our principals, community, business, faith and non-profit leaders are working together on this.
- There is rising demand for affordable Pre-K and the district needs more seats and more spaces to accommodate young students from birth to Pre-K4. The outcomes from our Pre-K programming are high for every child who participates. Expanding our high quality Pre-K to more working families will require some fees or additional funding because of the regulations around government Pre-K funding that we must abide by. We will have to design an affordable response.
- We have an opportunity to prepare our students for hundreds of job openings in the Little Rock area, and our businesses desperately need us to scale-up our career exposure and 21st Century skill development so our students not only learn information, but they learn to DO and MAKE things. Our hospitals, bankers, construction companies and manufacturers are willing to invest with us so every student has an opportunity to learn skills that prepare them for high-paying jobs in our local economy.
What opportunities do we have?
- The updated master facility plan for LRSD has to be completed this fall and submitted to the state. LRSD can compete for millions of dollars in additional facilities funding through this process.
- The community including the city, businesses and non-profits are ready and willing to step in and share the responsibility and resources with us.
- The new Little Rock Southwest High School opens up new uses for our remaining buildings, and we need community agreement on our next revitalization targets.
- Because revitalizing our facilities takes many planning and construction cycles, we have to outline a set of practical moves that can be put in motion now.
How will we remodel and improve the educational experience across the district?
Working with the community, we will identify a mix of common-sense and innovative solutions. We’re inviting collaboration with many community partners (library, government, churches, businesses, non-profits, neighborhood groups, etc.)
Step 1: Improve learning environments across the district to support academic growth and achievement outcomes that will return local control.
Step 2: Expand the learning choices for families and students by expanding Pre-K, Career/Tech exposure and experience, and establishing more K-8 sites to provide a stable path all the way to graduation and post-secondary achievements.
Step 3: Identify additional savings that can be allocated to increasing staff pay and supports with a specific priority of elevating the starting teacher pay at competitive rates. The LRSD is now near the bottom statewide for entry-level teacher salaries.
Why we believe this is sensible and fair?
Establishing a pragmatic five-year plan now positions the District to compete for critical state facilities funding that will help modernize our school system and open up access to more early childhood and career readiness resources that are in great demand. There are new opportunities to consider in most parts of the city to improve access to quality programs or services. By creating together a common-sense Blueprint for the next five years, we can remodel our school system as a real launch-pad for our community’s future. The changes we need to make to our school system are like remodeling a vintage but outdated house—keeping what works, and updating what doesn’t, to make it more functional for the future.
What are we doing to improve student achievement and how does that play into the discussion?
Our buildings are old and there is strong evidence that improving learning environments improves learning. We need to show that we care and are willing to invest in our children’s education and future. Each school is also working on their improvement plans, tailored to the needs of those students and neighborhoods. The district has committed resources to update materials and tools to assist our sites. We also have moved forward with an aggressive professional development plan to support our staff which in turn supports our students.
What happens if we do not act in unison now? We have to realize that we are losing students to outlying communities, private schools, home schools and charter schools. We must compete to attract and retain students. We are stewarding our public school system as we move toward the re-establishment of local control.