Dollarway School District’s return to local control applauded

Dollarway School District Superintendent Bobby Acklin said Thursday afternoon that the State Board of Education vote approving the district’s removal from state control was far from a sure thing.

“I thought at first that they weren’t going to make the motion,” Acklin said. “The State Board members are really concerned about how the new school board elections will turn out. They talked about the district being very fragile right now as it turns itself around and said that it couldn’t afford any negative energy in the form of members of the old school board coming back.”

Acklin said that he is confident that the State Board wants the Dollarway district to do well.

“I believe that in the end they voted to return the district to local control because we are the only district in the state that was taken over for standards violations and we took care of those violations,” Acklin said. “We weren’t in academic distress or fiscal distress. I think once we get our district back, the community will embrace us better.”

The news of the State Board decision was met with enthusiastic approval by Pine Bluff area officials with connections to the Dollarway School District.

“That’s a good thing,” Ward 4 Alderman and Dollarway alumnus Steven Mays said Thursday afternoon. “It’s time. Dollarway is headed in the right direction right now and it must be kept on track. Superintendent Acklin is doing a great job with the staff he has in place.”

Mays said that he has met regularly with Acklin as well as students and parents to offer his support.

“Fighting has been reduced on Dollarway campuses and the teachers are teaching the best that they can in all classes,” Mays said. “The students have a more enthusiastic attitude and are more obedient than they were before.”

Mays is also keen to ensure the right people are elected to the newly constituted school board.

“I have both hands in the effort to elect the right people to the school board,” Mays said. “It’s an honor that the Dollarway School District put their faith in me to help them as they move forward.”

Efrem Elliott was a member of the Dollarway School District Board of Directors that was removed by the State Board of Education in June 2012 when the vote was taken to place the district under state control.

“I think today’s vote was an outstanding decision,” Elliott said. “Now that they have corrected some things and the board will be back in action, it is a great thing for the community. Superintendent Acklin is doing a great job and correcting things that need to be corrected. He has my full support and [I] will provide whatever assistance may be needed.”

When asked if he is considering another run for the school board Elliott said that his current position on the Lighthouse Charter School Board of Directors would prevent him from doing so.

“I look forward to working with the new Dollarway School Board,” Elliott said.