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    2020-2021 Annual Report to the Public

    The 2020-2021 school year is the second year for the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) to be under the leadership of Dr. Charles McNulty.

    School Board Members Service Hours

    Each year, the board members receive a minimum of nine (9) hours of training and instruction in this state’s school laws and the laws governing school boards’ powers, duties, and responsibilities.

    Desegregation Plan 2000/Education Plan

    PCSSD remains under court supervision for the Desegregation Plan 2000 in the areas of student achievement, discipline, and facilities.

    Accreditation Standards

    All schools in the PCSSD are accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education.

    Elementary Education

    The District has 16 elementary schools. This year, 14 of the 16 campuses have Pre-K classes that serve three and four-year-olds. All schools in PCSSD strive to take each child’s education personally.

    • Student learning data, including Aspire and NWEA Maps data, are reviewed regularly in teacher teams and school improvement leadership teams to improve learning experiences.
    • PCSSD uses common formative, interim, and summative assessments as a tool to guide student learning.
    • Data analyzed and strategies are selected at each school to meet their unique student population throughout the year to ensure school improvement.
    • K-5 campuses implemented Everyday Math and Redbird programs while being supplemented with initiatives to increase higher-order thinking skills and writing.
    • PCSSD added Studies Weekly for science and social studies instruction in grades K-5.
    • K-5 campuses implemented Mystery Science to enrich science instruction.
    • K-5 implementation of Journeys, a resource to support comprehensive literacy while continuing to emphasize writing across the curriculum.
    • RISE, Phonics First, and the Science of Reading are intentional initiatives that further increase students’ reading ability.
    Secondary Education

    PCSSD has eight (8) secondary schools on ten (10) campuses, including the Sylvan Hills Freshman Campus and the Center of Innovation. The four middle schools and four high schools provide rigorous learning opportunities for all students. The District has developed school improvement plans to continuously monitor and improve student achievement following the Desegregation Plan 2000.

    • Reveal Math and ALEX programs are used at 6-12 campuses while supplemented with initiatives to increase higher-order thinking skills and writing.
    • PCSSD added Studies Weekly for science and social studies instruction in grades 6-8.
    • Student learning data, including Aspire and NWEA Maps data, are reviewed regularly in teacher teams and school improvement leadership teams to improve learning experiences.
    • PCSSD uses common formative, interim, and summative assessments as tools to guide student learning.
    • Science of Reading is an intentional initiative that further increase students’ reading ability.
    • Alternative Learning (AL) classrooms provide Tier 2 interventions and additional support by outside service providers when needed at each school. The Center of Innovation serves as our tier 3 initiative for AL.
    • The Center of Innovation houses our tier three alternative learning environment classes. It also serves as a professional development center for the district where district-level and statewide professional development.
    • Participation in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) at each middle school prepares students for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programming at District high schools.
    • Each secondary school offers Pre-Advanced Placement, Advanced Placement, and Career Technical Education course offerings to prepare students for college and career pursuits.
    • Edgenuity, an online tool approved by the Arkansas Department of Education, provides online access 24/7 to American College Test (ACT) preparation.
    • Real-time course and credit recovery provided to students in Grades 6-12 through the District’s after-school intervention program.
    • Driven School of Opportunity (Blended), beginning its fourth year in the district, provides a personalized learning atmosphere where students can advance in subjects, stay on a prescribed track, or receive support for the content they need.
    • Driven School of Opportunity (Blended) housed in Maumelle, Mills, and Robinson High Schools during the 2020 - 2021 school year. Nearly 320 students participated in the DRIVEN program between the three schools.
    • PCSSD and the Donaldson’s Scholarship Program continues to collaborate with UALR and Philander Smith College to promote college readiness through ACT preparation sessions, mentoring, and providing scholarships to students.
    • In partnership with Ford NGL and the Academies of Central Arkansas, PCSSD piloted our first Freshman Seminar classes at each high school. Freshman Seminar will be the foundational class for our new Career Academy model that will begin in the 2021-2022 school year. 
    District-wide Instructional and Behavioral Initiatives

    The district utilizes Schoology, Google Classroom (Science), and Kami to maintain continuity of instruction with students who attend traditionally, virtually, and using a blended model of two (2) days onsite and three (3) days virtually. The district curriculum was revamped K - 12 and implemented district-wide, including adopting a new math curriculum. The writing initiative 6 Traits + 1, a district-wide initiative, helps our students in grades 1-12 develop strong writing skills, strengthening them as learners. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) programs have continued to grow in each of our schools. Teachers use USA Test Prep, common formative assessments, and small groups throughout the district to assess student growth and inform instruction. Additionally, teachers administer Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) MAPS, interim assessments, at all grade levels.

    Each campus has dedicated time to conduct Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings. The goal of PLCs is to use data to guide instruction. During these meetings, teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators discuss the data and share strategies to help students grow academically. Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports (PBIS) continues to thrive at all campuses throughout the district with extension to our buses. We continue to see positive outcomes with this program as it increases learning opportunities and decreases behavioral occurrences. This year we have embedded Socio-emotional learning as a part of our day with students to assist them in navigating day-to-day concerns that face students more in today’s society.

    As we utilize these various academic and behavioral initiatives to strengthen our students, Instructional Coaches continue to provide additional job-embedded professional development to support classroom teachers. Additionally, the district and state provide professional development opportunities to all certified and classified staff. It is the goal of PCSSD to equip teachers with the necessary tools to give each of our students a quality education.

    Information Technology
    • Library Learning Centers continue to add to the collection of online e-books.
    • The District is beginning the sixth-year of its 1:1 device initiative and continues to make strides to extend education outside the classroom.
      • This year the District will complete a large-scale purchase refresh of all student and teacher Chromebooks.
    • I.T. is continuing to upgrade bandwidth and infrastructure in support of teaching and learning. The District began upgrading each school to a 1Gb connection that connects them back to the main data center. The District is upgrading the bandwidth to support the District’s 1:1 technology initiative and online testing. The department is also upgrading the internet connection at all schools to a 20 Gb connection.
    • The District will continue the 5-year replacement cycle of its wireless infrastructure and replace outdated Wireless Access Points (WAP).
    • During the spring of the 2019-2029 school year, due to the need to pivot to virtual learning, the I.T. Department began initiatives to assist students, parents, and teacher navigate this new learning platform:
      • The I.T. Department added a technical support portal to the PCSSD Website for parents to request help for their virtual students. Teacher librarians service the portal.
      • The District is replacing the teacher’s outdated classroom workstations with larger monitors and Chromebook setups. This update will provide teachers a means to dock their Chromebooks, which will extend their overall capabilities.
    • During the 2020-2021 school year, the I.T. Department will expand with new projects:
      • The District is implementing Google Enterprise across the district to elevate teaching and learning. Google Enterprise will take collaboration to the next level by providing both students and teachers breakout rooms, live streaming of events, recording of virtual lessons, and many other collaborative tools to help the virtual classroom be more interactive and efficient.
      • I.T. is implementing Classlink as a one-click single sign-on solution that gives students and teachers access to everything they need with one password. It also provides our students with a simple method of using a QuickCard to authenticate their devices and applications. Classlink offers more time for learning and less time logging in.
      • Schoology, the Learning Management System for PCSSD, launched in August 2020 and is used districtwide for all students and educators.
      • In October 2020, The Arkansas Department of Education granted PCSSD permission to open Driven Virtual Academy in the 2021-2022 school year. 
    Financial Overview
    • The District’s Legal Fund Balance at the beginning of the Fiscal Year 2021 school year was 17,929,305.45.
    • We anticipate a Legal Fund Balance of 12% of our revenues by the end of the 2020 - 2021 fiscal year.
    • The District had a decrease of approximately 3 million in state foundation funding.
    • The fiscal year 2021 school year will see the completion of Sylvan Hills High School.
    Facilities Improvements

    During the 2020-2021 fiscal school year, we will continue to focus on Plan 2000 initiatives for the entire district, ensuring that we meet the needs of every student that we serve. We will place areas of opportunity into a three-tier process, classified into initial assessments with immediate action, short timeframe projects, and long timeframe projects.

    Current projects noted below:

    • Robinson campus
      • Connect the campus sewer system to the Little Rock WasteWater Platform
    • Sylvan Hills High School - Finalize the last two phrases of the campus improvements. Baldwin & Shell extended the projected completion to Spring 2020.
      • Performing Arts Center
      • Multipurpose Arena
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS
  • The Communications Department continues to:
    • Oversee the advertising budget for the Pulaski County Special School District.
    • Recruit and retain students through marketing efforts on social media and paid advertisements in various media outlets (i.e., Little Rock Family, Savvy, Power 92.3FM, THV11, KATV, etc.).
    • Coordinate with local media to promote school events, student and teacher success, educational opportunities, and more. The Communications Team coordinates with the local media on a daily-to-weekly basis.
      • Disseminate press releases and media advisories to publicize news stories and meetings.
    • Publish an annual calendar with all school events, planned closures/holidays, and other major events. The team publishes events on the district and school websites and available for print in PDF format.
    • Coordinate the announcements of inclement weather plans to the community.
    • Use social media to communicate with parents, staff, and the community. PCSSD currently has nearly 16,000 Facebook fans, almost 3,000 Instagram followers, and more than 4,100 Twitter followers.
    • Handle crisis communication situations for the entire District and assists when needed at each school.
    • Respond to all Freedom of Information Act requests according to Arkansas laws.
    • Manage the People Assisting Local Schools (PALS) Volunteer Program, which contributed more than 150,000 hours to PCSSD and its schools in the 2019-2020 school year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The PCSSD website (pcssd.org) network:
    • The district website has averaged over 5,000 page views per day since July 1, 2020.
    • The district website also encompasses 25 individual school websites, including an additional site for the Center of Innovation.
      • The team will add another school site in preparation for the 2020-2021 opening of Driven Virtual Academy.
  • The Communications Department had several successful endeavors in the 2019-2020 school year:
    • Launched new websites on October 1, 2019
      • New district website (pcssd.org)
      • New school websites (26 site locations)
      • Simultaneously launched a district-wide app
    • Created a more cohesive branding concept by hiring a graphic designer with brand coordination skills
    • Communicated effectively with all stakeholders as schools shifted to virtual learning in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
  • During the 2020-2021 school year, the Communications Department will enhance current marketing tactics and expand with new projects:
    • Create a Google Site that houses all-district branding materials. Currently, every school has its own Google Drive folder. The new Google Site will allow schools to access branding materials across the district.
    • Expand presence on YouTube with more video content from teachers, students, and the district office.
    • Improve PALS (people assisting local schools) process for volunteering at all schools in the district.
Contact

For more information or for a copy of this report, please contact the Pulaski County Special School District, Educational Accountability, 925 East Dixon Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72206 (phone 501-234-2090 or email ywilliams@pcssd.org).