Education notebook

Little Rock schools carry over $43.1M

The Little Rock School District finished the 2016-17 school year with a carry-over balance of $43,156,145, Chief Financial Officer Kelsey Bailey said last week.

That was up significantly from the $31.5 million ending balance the district projected it would have when the 2016-17 budget was prepared last year.

Bailey attributed the surplus funds in part to savings from a district hiring freeze as well as to greater-than-expected savings in school bus transportation costs.

The district had total revenue of $341,044,180 in the recently completed school year, and expenses of $340,641,929.

Revenue was slightly less than the $344,640,748 projected at the year’s start, due largely to less state aid than expected. On the expense side, the district spent a total of $194.7 million on salaries and benefits, short of the nearly $203 million that was budgeted. The district had the equivalent of 3,174 full-time employees last year.

The district budgeted $11.4 million for school bus transportation and spent just under $10.2 million

Last year’s budget also included the expenditure of $47.5 million for the completion of Pinnacle View Middle School.

The district was to submit its budget for 2017-18 to the state Education Department this weekend. The budget preparation and submission was complicated by the district’s transfer this year to the state’s required financial management system. The district is the last in the state to make that switch.

Groundbreaking set for new high school

About 100 school district, city and state dignitaries will participate at 1:30 p.m. Monday in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Little Rock School District’s new southwest Little Rock high school.

Deputy Superintendent Marvin Burton told the district’s Community Advisory Board last week that the school, which will have a capacity for 2,250 ninth through 12th graders, will open in August 2020. The school that will replace McClellan and J.A. Fair high schools will be similar to the newly built and expanded North Little Rock High School, he said.

The district sold second-lien bonds earlier this year, money from which will be used for the high school as well as for lighting, window, and air conditioning projects at many other of the district’s campuses. The district is also using savings and the last year of state desegregation aid for the high school.

Burton also said that planning is underway for converting the existing McClellan High for another school purpose — although the district does not have money at this point to do construction at the site.

Hall principal says punctuality on rise

Mark Roberts, the new principal at Little Rock Hall High School, reported to the district’s Community Advisory Board on Thursday that student punctuality and behavior has improved in the opening weeks of the school year.

“I’m amazed,” Roberts said. “It gives me chills. I’m very thankful to be at the school.”

He has also set for himself what he calls a “Gaudy Goal,” which is one that is attainable but also a stretch. That goal is to transform the school that is now categorized as being in academic distress because of chronically low test scores into one of the nation’s Blue Ribbon Schools.

The Blue Ribbon Schools are those that exhibit exemplary performance or significant improvements in student achievement.

Several initiatives to that end are in various stages of planning and implementation. One initiative instituted is a daily reading and writing requirement of 25 minutes in every 90-minute class this year.

Roberts has been principal now at a total of seven schools in different states, six of which started as low-performing schools, he said.

Metro on 10/01/2017

Print Headline: Little Rock schools carry over $43.1M Groundbreaking set for new high school Hall principal says punctuality on rise

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