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Pine Bluff School District looks to the future after regaining local control



Pine Bluff, Arkansas – Five years ago, the Pine Bluff School District was placed under state management due to financial difficulties and subpar academic results. The district is now responsible for determining its own future once more.

They gave evidence demonstrating academic development and the fulfillment of specific requirements to the state board. Erika Evans and other parents are optimistic that these advancements will continue.

“This year is a rally cry to onward and upward,” Evans said.

Evans expressed her optimism that the encouraging pattern will hold.

“The board has to make difficult decisions, but to put that hard work in to make sure that whatever errors that were made in the past doesn’t occur again,” Evans said.

In the fall of 2022, the district received limited authority that permitted it to have an appointed school board rather than an elected one. That, according to Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Barbaree, was a positive start. Ensuring that pupils are learning in the classroom is the main objective, according to her.

“I think the biggest concern would be our academics, which is still a concern for many of us, but we’ve shown growth, and over the last ACT Aspire we have even a larger amount of growth,” Barbaree said.

Although the development was not as significant as they had hoped for, she noted it was still encouraging.

Barbaree stated that the district is concentrating on the future while taking lessons from its past errors.

“The hope would be we build a foundation that says, ‘This is how we’re going to function as a school’ so that everybody who believes in the school and the school district whether we’re here or not can continue on with that,” Barbaree said.

Evans concurs with Barbaree that community support is essential to the district’s success.

“We’re Zebra proud, we’ve got that Zebra pride, we’re Zebra strong,” Evans said.

According to Barbaree, the following school board meeting will mark the start of the election process for a new school board. In November 2024, there will be the first election for a single board seat.


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