Maumelle City Council takes first step to form school district

Maumelle residents gave a standing ovation Monday night following an alderman's presentation on why the city should form its own school district, and detach from Pulaski County Special School District.

A resolution by Alderman Preston Lewis was passed unanimously Monday night that shows support by the Maumelle City Council to pursue becoming an independent school district.

This is the first step in what will likely be a long process for Maumelle to start its own school district.

Alderman Lewis laid out research showing how Maumelle could survive by itself, and an unsettling compare of how the schools in its city compare with neighboring schools outside of Pulaski County.

"Six-hundred and fifty-one days that Maumelle has gone without public representation for its schools," said Lewis in reference to the Arkansas State Board of Education's control over the district.

"Additionally we have academic standards at the secondary level that are atrocious, and really don't affect the kind of community we have here in Maumelle."

Alderman Lewis revealed an array of research outlining what he viewed as a decline in Maumelle's school system, including only 58 percent of its kids choosing to go to its public schools.

On the contrary, one resident voiced concern over nearby children that bus in from outside the city.

"It's ok to want to be separate, it's ok to want to have Maumelle's name on something, but we on the other side of the bridge and tracks, we're in a position where we're feeling left out," said a nearby resident, who left after making her statements.

Money will undoubtedly play a large role for Maumelle to be an independent district. The most recent data shows Maumelle as the fifth highest income per capita in the state, but one man cited Jacksonville's effort of detachment as reason for cash concerns.

"It's been a 30-year process to get there. They've spent upwards of $35 million in the lobbies and the lawyers," he said. "Is that money at the discretion currently of the Maumelle city?"

This resolution just outlines the council's goal. It doesn't allow the council to fund a "feasibility study," which must be concluded before going forward.

New legislation will most likely have to be passed before Maumelle would meet requirements to detach from Pulaski County Special School District.