2 Arkansas school districts face reorganization


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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Pulaski County Special School District and Helena-West Helena School District officials have told Arkansas lawmakers that they're working on fiscal issues as they face the possibility of having district operations reorganized.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/22XmS3M ) reports that Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess and Helena-West Helena Superintendent John Hoy appeared at a joint House and Senate Education Committee meeting Monday.

Both districts are in their fifth year of fiscal distress. After five years of fiscal distress, the state Education Board can either return control of a district to the local school board or reconstitute the school district, if it hasn't corrected its financial problems.

Jacksonville plans to form its own school district and detach from the Pulaski County Special School District on July 1, which will allow the district to shed some expenses.

"It's a long-term benefit to the Pulaski County Special and to the Jacksonville/North Pulaski districts, but, I think, in the short term there is a great deal of exposure for both," Guess said.

The Pulaski County school district was classified as being in fiscal distress in May 2011 after investigations by the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit uncovered widespread financial problems and mismanagement.

Helena-West Helena's superintendent said the district isn't facing any budget shortfalls, and has posted fund balances of $6 million for several years.

The Education Board may grant additional time for a school district to remove itself from fiscal distress if it wasn't able to do so within five years "due to impossibility caused by external forces beyond the control of the public school or school district."

The board is scheduled to review the Pulaski County Special School District's status Thursday.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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