Central's Ace Debaters, Williams & Woods, Still #1 in the Nation

Another historic weekend for Central's #1 debating team in the nation! DJ Williams and Payton Woods were one of eight teams to compete at the University of Oklahoma (OU) Round Robin in Norman this past weekend. The Round Robin is an elite competition that precedes the high school Tournament of Champions (TOC) Qualifying Tournament at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City. DJ and Payton are the first team in the history of the OU event to finish with a perfect 8-0 record, winning the Round Robin and earning 1st Speaker (Payton) and 2nd Speaker (DJ)!

After a grueling two days and 16 hours of debating at OU, DJ and Payton headed into the TOC qualifier very confident. They earned their historic NINTH bid to the Tournament of Champions--and (again), are the only team in the country with this many bids to the TOC. After 22 hours of debating at the TOC qualifier, DJ and Payton emerged victorious, placing 1st and snagging 1st and 2nd Speaker again!

Save the Date for 2nd Semester Parent Involvement Conferences

Saturday, January 23, 10am-12noon, Washington Elementary School, 2700 S. Main St. (Central/East) POSTPONED. NEW DATE TO COME.
Thursday, February 4, 5:30-7pm, Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Rd. (Southwest)
Thursday, February 25, 5:30-7pm, Parkview High School, 2501 John Barrow Rd. (West)

Click here to view the flyer. Participating schools for each conference included on the hyperlinked flyer. Haga clic aquí para versión en español.

Central's Kiara Williams Named January Athlete of the Month AGAIN!

Once again, Central High's Lady Tiger basketball star Kiara Williams has been named the Athlete of the Month for January. As a junior, Kiara was named the January 2015 Athlete of the Month and she continues to be a stand-out star and team leader. Earlier this year, Kiara signed to play college ball for the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville next fall. She has a 3.0 GPA and averages 13 points a game— proving that outstanding athletes have the discipline and dedication required to be successful in the classroom. Already her team is off to a 13-0 start and is ranked number one in the state. Significantly, Maxpreps has ranked the Lady Tigers #20 in the nation and USA Today has ranked the team as #25 in the nation. We have every expectation that Kiara and her team will have the right stuff to take home the 7A State Championship this year.

Dunbar PTSA Funds Cash Prizes for Science Fair Winners

January 11, 2016—The results are in for Dunbar Gifted and Talented/International Studies Middle School’s annual Science Fair and thanks to Dunbar’s PTSA three young scientists are taking home a total of $175 for their outstanding work. The overall winners are:

• 1st Place: Maleah Neal (6th grade) $100 prize
• 2nd place: Kaylin Allen (7th grade) $50 prize
• 3rd place: Julio Castrillo (6th grade) $25 prize

Plans Underway to Open Two New Schools

January 11, 2016—The Little Rock School District is moving forward with the planning, design and construction of a new middle school in west Little Rock and a new high school in southwest Little Rock. The former board of the Little Rock School District envisioned both projects in the broader context of a millage increase and bond issue. However, LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus and administrative staff now believe both projects can be planned, designed, constructed and equipped using existing revenues. Superintendent Kurrus is appointing a committee to choose architects for both projects with their work beginning immediately.

The new west Little Rock middle school will open this fall at the Leisure Arts location for sixth graders with grades 7-8 added in subsequent years. Temporary space for the sixth grade will be provided in the office building while the district begins the process of converting the large warehouse into the permanent middle school facility to accommodate students as they move up. Land and improvements are now under contract for $11,500,000 with a total estimated cost of $15,000,000 to $19,000,000 for the conversion, a new gymnasium, furniture and equipment. The expected enrollment for fall 2016 will be 250-300 sixth graders.

The planning and design phase for the new southwest Little Rock high school will also begin immediately on the $1,372,000 Richsmith Lane property previously purchased with the approval of the former LRSD board of directors. The exact size, scope and cost of the southwest Little Rock high school will be defined through the planning and design process. A large, new, state-of-the-art high school could have a total cost of around $85 million compared to a cost of $19-31 million to refurbish McClellan High School, and will have the capacity to serve the 2,700 students who live in southwest Little Rock.

Latest Edition of Straight Talk by Baker Kurrus, December 21, 2015

The administrative staff of LRSD and I have determined that we should proceed with the planning, design and construction of a new middle school in west Little Rock and a new high school in southwest Little Rock.  These projects were envisioned by the former board of LRSD in the broader context of a millage increase and bond issue.  I believe these projects can be planned, designed, constructed and equipped using existing revenues.  These projects can be the beginning of a new and more fulfilling era for our district if we can work together.  We will put each project on a fast track.

We are planning to open an area middle school (6th grade initially, grades 7-8 will be added in subsequent years) at the Leisure Arts location in the fall of 2016.  We will prepare temporary space for the 6th grade in the office building.  We will also begin the process of converting the large warehouse into the permanent middle school facility so that we can accommodate the students as they move up.  Land and improvements are now under contract for $11,500,000.  A substantial amount of construction will be required to convert the existing facilities to school use.  Current estimates are for total costs in the range of $15,000,000 to $19,000,000 for the conversion, a new gymnasium, furniture and equipment. 

The attendance zone that we have planned will include the elementary zones for Fulbright, Terry and Roberts.  Current LRSD fifth grade students who reside within one of the aforementioned attendance zones will automatically be assigned to the new school without any action by parents/guardians.  If a parent/guardian from the new zone has completed an Optional Enrollment Request Form (“OERF”) requesting assignment to an LRSD magnet/specialty school (Dunbar, Forest Heights STEM, Horace Mann), and if the magnet/specialty assignment is no longer desired, the OERF may be rescinded.   The parent/guardian may also wait to see if the alternative assignment is received.  The alternative assignment may then be accepted or declined.  Based on historic patterns, almost all students from these zones can receive an assignment to Dunbar or Mann.  Space is very limited at FH STEM.  If you wish to rescind your OERF, please do so on January 5 through 8 so we can plan accordingly. 

We will have an open enrollment period on January 5, 2016 through January 8, 2016 for non-LRSD students living in the zone who wish to attend the new school as sixth graders in the fall of 2016.  Planning will be ongoing, and we will communicate with prospective students promptly after the open enrollment period closes.

I am appointing a committee to choose architects for the new SWLR high school and for the Leisure Arts warehouse conversion.  Their work will begin immediately.

The reasons to start at this time on these two projects are compelling.  The middle school is needed from a purely demographic standpoint.  The three elementary zones which will be served have a population of about 38,000 people. The area continues to grow. LRSD has over 2,700 students who live in the Fair and McClellan zones.  The cost to refurbish McClellan is estimated to be at least $18,000,000.  The size, scope and cost of the SWLR project will be defined through the planning and design process.  The ultimate costs of the new projects will be driven by the sizes of the schools and their projected enrollments.  Funding will always be a challenge, but LRSD has great resources.  If we approach the same efficiency metrics that exist in other districts, we will be able to continue with a phased plan of facilities improvements.

McClellan's Pierre Strong Named December Athlete of the Month

December 15, 2015—McClellan Crimson Lion Junior Pierre Strong, running back and wide receiver, was named LRSD's Athlete of the Month. Recent honors include: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Player of the Week and Yarnell's Sweetest Play and standout performances all season long (10-2). McClellan entered the 5A State Championship Tournament as the number two seed for the 5A Central. After defeating Morrilton, Lakeside and Batesville, the Crimson Lions vied for the state title against Pulaski Academy. Although they didn't take home the title this year, when accepting the Athlete of the Month award from Superintendent Baker Kurrus and Deputy Superintendent Marvin Burton, Strong vowed to emerge on top next year. We are looking forward to another standout performance from Strong in 2016 during his final year of high school competition.

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