Jacksonville in "final steps" to leave PCSSD

JACKSONVILLE (KATV) - A highly motivated group of Jacksonville parents say they're in the final stages of finally separating from the fiscally distressed Pulaski County Special School District.

Jacksonville parent Daniel Gray led a public meeting Tuesday night at the Jacksonville Community Center to present a crowd of hundreds with a glimpse of the groundwork for a potential Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District.

Gray says Jacksonville schools have somehow survived despite PCSSD neglecting its facilities for decades.

"Our facilities have been neglected and left behind over the years," said Gray. "So yes I think facilities would be the number one issue discussed once we had our own school district."

The Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District would take on 9 schools, including Jacksonville and North Pulaski High Schools. District leaders would be limited to area residents, in hopes of cutting down on the perceived bickering that went on between former PCSSD board members.

In his presentation Tuesday, Gray said there would be no new taxes during a detachment from PCSSD.

"Every feasibility study previously has shown that our tax base would support a Jacksonville/North Pulaski District," said Gray.

The next feasibility study is to be reviewed by federal judge in December. Depending on how the judge reviews the study, organizers can then begin to prepare for their new school district to open as early as next year.

As part of the public presentation, Gray noted there has been a dramatic decrease in enrollment at Jacksonville schools. Meanwhile, schools in Cabot have enjoyed increasing enrollment. Gray said a Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District would eventually recruit in Cabot.

"The Jacksonville area is the farthest point from the center of the district," said Dr. Jerry Guess. "So I think separating that part would actually make the operation of the rest of the district more efficient."

PCSSD would lose approximately 4,000 students but for the first time in about 35 years all sides agree it's time to move on.

"We need the community to come together to be inclusive and have input and to rally us, motivate the entire community to put us across the finish," said Gray.