Sherwood group concerned about schools settlement
SHERWOOD, Ark. (AP) -- A group that has been pushing for formation of a separate school district for Sherwood wants to change a provision in the proposed settlement of a decades-old desegregation lawsuit for Little Rock-area public schools.
The settlement could be approved after a January federal court hearing, putting an end to state payments of more than $1 billion that were used to fund desegregation efforts in the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts.
Part of the settlement allows a separate Jacksonville school district to be carved out of the Pulaski County district, but the document says no other communities can mount similar efforts.
The Sherwood Public Education Foundation, which formed last year, announced its objections Wednesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://is.gd/sgTZf5 ).
"We are not interested in derailing the progress toward the final conclusion to the desegregation case with the state," Sherwood foundation co-chairman Linda Remele said.
"However, we do not feel we can just sit silently by and just let this happen. We feel like we needed to express our surprise, and our extreme disappointment and dismay, over the unequal treatment of the communities in the Pulaski County Special School District to pursue a separate, community-based school district," Remele said.
The settlement would put an end to $65.8 million in annual state payments after the 2017-18 school year. Lawyers for the districts, the state and black students worked out the proposed settlement.
A fairness hearing is set for Jan. 13 and 14, after which a federal judge could approve the settlement.
The proposal is moving forward even though the Pulaski County School District is still under federal court supervision for its effort to desegregate. Carving out a Sherwood district would likely impact the desegregation effort.
Remele said the foundation doesn't want to block approval of the settlement, but would like to see it altered.
"It's a good deal," she said. "It's just a bad sentence. We've been told that if you change a comma or a period, they have to go back to the drawing board. They don't want to do that, and I don't blame them," Remele said.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com