PCSSD Serves Little Rock Too

While leaders debate and voters decide whether or not to refinance and extend Little Rock School District’s (LRSD’s) debt to build, refurbish facilities, the other school district which serves portions Little Rock has a similar vote on June 13th.

The Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD), which was taken over by the State in 2010 for Fiscal Distress, returned to local from State control in November. Like neighboring LRSD, it proposes not a millage increase, but a refinance and extension of its debt in order to build, refurbish facilities throughout the district.

The same PCSSD superintendent appointed by then-Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell, Dr. Jerry Guess, still serves the district under its newly elected board. Dr. Guess is aligned politically with many of the same folks opposing LRSD’s millage, so their silence and lack of opposition to PCSSD’s June 13th election speaks volumes regarding the real motivation behind opposition to LRSD’s millage extension.

It’s not about the merits of the millage; it’s about who is in control.

Incidentally, the PCSSD board, newly elected in November, voted unanimously to participate in Inter-district School Choice in 2018, so its new, refurbished Mills and Robinson High Schools and Fuller and Robinson Middle Schools will be available to LRSD students/families. Neighboring North Little Rock, Bryant and Benton School Districts have built/refurbished and/or are building/refurbishing. While LRSD millage opponents cry wolf over enrollment capped open-enrollment public charter schools, neighboring districts may enroll up to 3% of any other district’s enrollment in a given year.

Its neighbors aren’t waiting. LRSD will either compete or it won’t. Waiting for return to local control in 1 year, 2 years or 2 years and seven months serves no one except those who long benefitted from the district’s dysfunction?

Source: Arkansas Schools Data

Demographics (2016-17)PCSSDLRSD
Gifted & Talented14%23%
Special Education13%12%
Limited English Proficiency6%13%
Free and Reduced Lunch54%71%
Poverty Index100%135%
Certified Teachers8521,658
Classified Staff1,1911,518
Certified Staff239577
PCSSD’s most recent financial data are from 2015-16, the year before
separation of the Jacksonville-North Pulaski County School District.
The following numbers are for comparative purposes only.
Finances (2015-16)PCSSDLRSD
Per Pupil Expenditures$13,934$15,471
Base Teacher Salary
BA (0 Years)
Base Teacher Salary
MA (0 Years)
Base Teacher Salary
Top of Schedule
Average Teacher Salary$51,740$57,265
Property Assessment$2,490,356,153$3,477,675,908
Ten-year Increase in Annual Property Tax Receipts$42,813,622  $38,503,441
Total Mills40.7046.4
Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Mills2532
Uniform Rate of Taxation (URT) Mills2525
Mills in Excess of URT07
Dedicated M&O Mills.902
Debt Service Mills14.812.4
Total Debt Bond/Non-Bond$189,845,000$186,213,197
Property Tax Receipts (Including URT)$110,441,842$158,381,815
State Foundation Funding (Excluding URT)$39,657,639$64,268,031
Total Unrestricted Revenue from State, Local Sources$157,732,217$235,801,841
Total Restricted Revenue from State Sources$36,046,785$73,277,673
Total Restricted Revenue from Federal Sources$18,282,636$36,185,659
Total Revenue and Other Sources of Funds from All Sources$268,482,599$346,174,396
Facilities Acquisition & Construction$12,018,265$18,135,027
Debt Service$9,985,831$10,220,340
Building Fund Balance$69,514,709$4,562,464
Area in Square Miles729.8397.35
Number of Schools2446
Number of Schools with Enrollment Below 500 (State Funding Matrix)1324
Number of High Schools45
Number of Middle Schools/Junior Highs47
Number of Elementary Schools1629
Number of Other05

Quick Takeaways:

  • PCSSD’s assessed valuation was $987,319,755 lower than Little Rock’s.
  • PCSSD’s millage is 5.7 mills lower than Little Rock’s.
  • PCSSD paid $234,509 less in annual Debt Service than does Little Rock.
  • PCSSD’s Debt Service mills are 2.4 mills higher than Little Rock’s.
  • PCSSD’s Total Debt was $3,631,803 more than Little Rock’s.
  • PCSSD spent $6,116,762 less per year to acquire, construct facilities than does Little Rock.
  • PCSSD had $64,952,245 more in its Building Fund than does Little Rock.
  • PCSSD’s total area was 7.5 times that of Little Rock, and yet it had 14 (30%) fewer schools.
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