PCSSD votes yes for Jacksonville school district

After years of resisting, the Pulaski County Special School District says yes to a Jacksonville school district.
After years of resisting, the Pulaski County Special School District says yes to a Jacksonville school district.  The 7-0 vote opens the door for the district and parents to plan the breakaway.

Pulaski County Special School District, PCSSD, still has some hurdles to clear before Jacksonville school buses hit the road. The biggest is ending the 25 year desegregation case. But right now the district and parents are excited by what's possible.

"It's a major opportunity for our town," says parent Lisa Priest.

Lisa Priest hopes it is a major opportunity for her kids. One is a high school senior, the other a 5th grader here at Pinewood Elementary in Jacksonville. "I am a little apprehensive with my younger one coming on because the district seems to be going in different directions," Priest said.

"It's time, Jacksonville has wanted this for a long time," said deputy superintendent Beverly Ruthven.
Ruthven is deputy superintendent for the state's second largest district. Which stands to lose one-third of its kids and one-third of its state funding.

"We will have to adjust and reinvent what we're about and what we do and how we do it," she said.

Jacksonville parents have looked at all options. Some are sending their kids to Cabot schools. Priest says a Jacksonville district is about local control.

"We know what type of education we want for our children. Having the school board within the town will just give us that much more say so," she tells us.

And she hopes to see her youngest graduate from a new Jacksonville school district. Some of the schools that would leave the district are some of the lowest performing in the state. But Pulaski County will still have campuses on the school improvement list even if Jacksonville leaves.

So the district maintains this is about Jacksonville’s chance to control their schools. The Pulaski County Special School District currently has 18,000 students. The new Jacksonville district would open with around 6,000 students. The separation can not happen until a long standing desegregation case wraps up.

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