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Significant changes are coming at North Little Rock Elementary School



North Little Rock, Arkansas – Just a few days after the tornado on March 31, the North Little Rock School Board authorized a plan to remodel 7th Street Elementary School, changing its size and curriculum.

The district’s plan, which was put forth at the beginning of March, even calls for teachers to reapply for their jobs.

“Historically, there’s been some struggles at Seventh Street,” Parent Richard Tatum said. “We all feel like action should be taken. For us, it’s about how the action is being taken and what action is being taken.”

On top of the basic curriculum classes, the suggestions incorporate a brand-new curriculum centered on “themed learning” like animal science or design.

The district will enlarge the school to accommodate grades 6 through 8 beginning in the 2025–2026 school year, adding one grade per year. The school’s administrators anticipate that by increasing grade levels, enrolment will rise, class sizes will decrease, and children will receive more individualized attention.

However, not all parents support these tactics. Tatum stated that he will exercise caution when his little children attend the same school as teenagers.

“I’m concerned about the sixth or eighth grade, because again… these kids are at the age where the hormones start kicking in and the attitude starts flaring,” Tatum said. “There can be discipline problems.”

The proposal was endorsed by all parties, according to superintendent Gregory Pilewski. Teachers will need to reapply for their jobs in an effort to reduce a high turnover rate.

“They’ve had five principles in the last five or six years,” Pilewski said. “It’s our duty and responsibility as leaders to step forward with a plan and say, ‘Here’s what we’re gonna do to turn the school around.'”

Current teachers will remain employed by the district, but Pilewski states that if they aren’t rehired for the same post, they might be given a new assignment.

The voting was initially put off from March to April so that additional parent comments could be made. Even with the delays brought on by the tornado, Tracy Steele, who sits on the school board and represents the 7th Street neighborhood, claimed that some parents, like Tatum, still felt pressed for time.

“Sometimes you have to go ahead and make a decision and move forward,” Steele said. “We had to do that in order to have time to put staff in place and make the necessary changes that we needed to make before next school year.”

But a lot of the specifics, such as selecting a curricular theme, are still being worked out. Pilewski said the community board, which will begin meeting in a few weeks, is open to any member of the neighborhood who wants to participate in the decision-making process.

More students are anticipated to enroll as a result of the revised curriculum, which will also open doors for them to enter Arkansas companies.

“You’re learning reading, writing, speaking, listening, math, science,” Pilewski said. “But you’re connecting that with a theme that is grounded with industry partners, business partners and higher education.”


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