HomePine Bluff newsPine Bluff School District regains control after state intervention

Pine Bluff School District regains control after state intervention

Pine Bluff, Arkansas – Five years ago, the Pine Bluff School District faced significant challenges, leading the state to step in due to financial struggles and subpar academic performance. Today, the district is on the path to autonomy and has showcased notable improvements.

Upon presenting substantial evidence of academic progress and meeting specific criteria, the state board returned the reins to the district. This transformation is a beacon of hope for many, especially parents like Erika Evans, who eagerly anticipates further advancements.

“This year is a rally cry to onward and upward,” remarked Evans. She remains optimistic about the path ahead, saying, “The board has to make difficult decisions, but to put that hard work in to make sure that whatever errors that were made in the past doesn’t occur again.”

In the fall of 2022, the district was granted limited authority, permitting the appointment of a school board rather than electing its members. This transition, according to Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Barbaree, was a pivotal move. Barbaree’s main priority is ensuring student success. “I think the biggest concern would be our academics, which is still a concern for many of us, but we’ve shown growth, and over the last ACT Aspire we have even a larger amount of growth,” she noted. Though the progress wasn’t as pronounced as desired, it’s undeniably a promising sign.

Understanding the significance of not repeating past mistakes, Barbaree emphasizes a forward-thinking approach. “The hope would be we build a foundation that says, ‘This is how we’re going to function as a school’ so that everybody who believes in the school and the school district whether we’re here or not can continue on with that,” she stated.

Community involvement is the backbone of any successful institution, and the Pine Bluff School District is no exception. Erika Evans, exuding pride and confidence in the school, proudly proclaimed, “We’re Zebra proud, we’ve got that Zebra pride, we’re Zebra strong.”

In line with their road to autonomy, the district has plans in motion for an elected school board. Dr. Barbaree disclosed that this process will commence at the subsequent school board assembly, with the inaugural election for a board seat scheduled for November 2024.

Nathan Kim

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