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State puts Pulaski Co. district on fiscal distress

The Arkansas Education Board has placed the Pulaski County Special School District in fiscal distress.
PULASKI COUNTY, AR - The Pulaski County Special School District has had some bright moments this school year. Leaders opened the brand new Maumelle High School and a new middle school which perhaps brought in more students. But that's about it on the bright side.

"I think over the years and years of lax administrators expenditures in the district have gotten out of control," PCSSD Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess said.

Last school year the district spent $5.5 million more than it brought in and if not for a one time property tax revenue, the district would end this school year in the red.

PCSSD superintendent Jerry Guess presented the board with nearly $7 million dollars in cost reductions through eliminating positions a new copier contract and a new bell schedule. But they need another $7 million in cuts and they're looking to negotiations with the teachers' unions. Right now the district pays up to $16 million a year in benefits.

"I think the next days and weeks are critical,” Guess said. “I think we have to make it priority one."

Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers spokeswoman Marty Nix says they understand the district's plight and look forward to those talks, but she warns the teachers and support staff will not absorb all the cuts.

Dr. Guess understands the need for collaboration.

"There has to be serious recognition of the conditions of the district and a cooperation to achieve the kind of financial stability to put the district on a good path,” Guess said.
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