Meeting to focus on potential closure of Greenville school

The administration of the Pine Bluff School District will host a community meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Greenville Elementary School to discuss the possibility of closing the school before the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

The Pine Bluff School District Board of Directors approved a request from district superintendent Linda Watson at its January meeting that she be allowed to work with her administration to prepare a report that includes information the board will need to make an informed decision on which district schools will be closed to address the continuing loss of students from the district.

The Feb. 26 meeting is part of this information-gathering effort on the part of the district as it seeks public input on the issue.

“The Pine Bluff School District has lost at least 100 students a year for the past nine or 10 years,” Watson said in January. “We cannot continue to survive financially operating all of the schools we have now. The district had between 6,000 and 7,000 students several years ago and now we are down to around 4,500 in K-12. We will prepare a detailed plan that includes financial and enrollment information to allow the board to decide on a school closing plan effective with the 2013-2014 school year.”

Watson stressed in January that no decisions regarding school closings have been made yet.

“At its last meeting the board authorized my administration to study closing schools and towards that end we have met with principals and staff,” Watson said at the regular monthly meeting of the school board Tuesday night. “The next step will be to have a community meeting to discuss the reason why this is necessary. Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to visit with staff and hopefully we will have all of the information we need by the March board meeting or the April meeting at the latest.”