KATV – Channel 7: WLR parents pressuring district for middle school

WLR parents pressuring district for middle school

By Jeannette Reyes, Reporter (KATV – Channel 7, January 18, 2013)

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) – Dozens of parents are saying they’re tired of asking for what they consider a basic need for their kids. But the Little Rock School District said their requests are not falling on deaf ears.

“It’s hurts our community, it hurts the economic development and it separates the friendships that the kids have built over all that time,” said Amy Bell, a parent who lives in West Little Rock.

It’s a problem many West Little Rock parents say they’ve been dealing with for years. Several elementary school options in their area but none at the middle school level.

“If we have to ship the kids to a different part of town to go to school they spend about two hours round trip a day on the bus,” said Bell.

Gary Newton is the head of this community effort to have a school built in West Little Rock. He moved back to Little Rock from Los Angeles because of the district’s elementary schools.

“It has outstanding school leadership,” said Newton. “Everything from the staff to the teachers to the students, excellence is expected,” he said.

But with all seven middle schools outside of West Little Rock, he says parents have no convenient options for their kids after the fifth grade.

“It may not fall on deaf ears, but it falls on inactive hands,” said Newton. “We hear talk at the district level but there’s been talk for years,” he said.

The superintendent for the district says they are working to make this a reality. But finding a location has been difficult.

In a statement, the district said, in part, “We have been looking into this for a while now. We have already partnered with a realty company and are marking serious efforts to find a location,” said Dr. Morris Holmes, the superintendent for the Little Rock School District.

And although Newton is growing impatient, he says he’s more than willing to collaborate with the school to speed up the process.

“Anything that’s holding them back we’re willing to do anything,” said Newton.

The district also plans on building a school in southwest Little Rock. They plan on releasing details on both efforts as soon as they are able.

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