2021- 2022 Annual Report to the Public

The 2021 - 2022 school year is the fourth 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

On May 06, 2021, after 39 years of federal court supervision, United States District Court Judge D. Price Marshall declared Pulaski County Special School District unitary in all areas except facilities. PCSSD was required to submit its proposal of truing-up inequities between Mills High School and Robinson Middle School by August 01, 2021

Accreditation Standards

The Arkansas Department of Education has accredited all PCSSD schools.

Elementary Education

The District has 17 elementary schools. This year, 14 of the 17 campuses have Pre-K classes that serve three and four-year-olds. This is the first year for classes at DRIVEN Virtual Academy. This campus provides digital instruction for grades K - 12. All schools in PCSSD strive to take each child’s education personally. 

  • Student learning data, including Aspire and NWEA Maps, are regularly reviewed in teacher and school improvement leadership teams to improve learning experiences. 

  • PCSSD uses Edulastic for common formative, interim, and summative assessments as a tool to guide student learning. 

  • Data are 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.

  • DRIVEN Virtual Academy (DVA) is a full-time, 100% online school for students in K-12 within the Pulaski County Special School District. Driven Virtual Academy will distinguish itself from other schools in the area by providing flexibility in coursework with self-paced options, mentoring programs, and curriculum delivery flexibility.

Secondary Education

PCSSD has eight (10) secondary schools, including Sylvan Hills Junior High and DRIVEN Virtual Academy, which also houses the Center of Innovation. The four middle, one junior high, and five high school campuses provide rigorous learning opportunities for all students. This is the first year for classes at DRIVEN Virtual Academy. This campus provides digital instruction for grades K - 12. 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, are regularly reviewed in teacher and school improvement leadership teams to improve learning experiences. 

  • PCSSD uses Edulastic for common formative, interim, and summative assessments as tools to guide student learning. 

  • Science of Reading is an intentional initiative that further increases 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 (COI) 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. 

  • Certified staff provided real-time course and credit recovery provided to 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.

  • DRIVEN Virtual Academy (DVA) is a full-time, 100% online school for students in K-12 within the Pulaski County Special School District. Driven Virtual Academy will distinguish itself from other schools in the area by providing flexibility in coursework with self-paced options, mentoring programs, and curriculum delivery flexibility.

  • PCSSD and the Donaldson’s Scholarship Program 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 during the 2021-2022 school year. All freshmen in PCSSD will take Freshman Seminar or AVID Seminar.

District-wide Instructional and Behavioral Initiatives

The district utilizes Schoology, Google Classroom (Science), Screencastify, and Kami to maintain continuity of instruction with students who attend traditionally and virtually at DRIVEN Virtual Academy. The district curriculum continues to be monitored K - 12 and implemented district-wide. 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 Edulastic for 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. 

The District has implemented two new BIG ROCKS. STEM is LIT, our new STEM initiative, will emphasize literacy instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The other new BIG ROCKS is Culturally Relevant Teaching, which encourages teachers to acknowledge the importance of cultural backgrounds, experiences, and interests of the students and stakeholders of the school and greater community. 

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/Instructional Technology

  • During the 2021-2022 school year, the I.T. Department will expand with new projects:

    • Implement new filtering capabilities for both onsite and offsite filtering for all PCSSD devices.

    • Replace computer labs in several areas throughout the district.

    • Provide Chromebook charging carts for all Kindergarten classes.

    • Configure and roll out all-new teacher and student Chromebooks.

    • Upgrade wireless in several schools throughout the district.

    • Install interactive boards and TVs in several classrooms throughout the district.

    • Install new intercom systems at several schools throughout the district.

    • Library Learning Centers continue to add to the collection of online e-books.

    • 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.

    • Plan to seek approval to replace outdated desktop computers in administrative offices across the district.

  • The District is beginning the seventh year of its 1:1 device initiative and continues to make strides to extend education outside the classroom. 

    • This year the District purchased and is distributing 14,500 Chromebooks to all students and certified staff.

    • 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. 

  • I.T. is continuing to upgrade bandwidth and infrastructure in support of teaching and learning. The District began upgrading secondary schools to a 2Gb 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 to a 20 Gb connection.

Finance

  • The District projected to start the 21-22 school year with approximately 17 million in the legal fund.

  • The chart below represents revenue and expenses for the fiscal year 2020-2021.

Category
Expenditures

Year to Date Expenditures

Teacher Salary

55,795,678.96

Classified Salary

27,542,057.50

Benefits

23,847,582.23

M & O

6,706,757.57

Transportation

1,360,099.90

Other Operations

8,351,608.00

Debt Service

13,827,703.42

Total Expenditures

$137,431,487.58

Category
Revenue

Year to Date
Revenue

Taxes

95,854,304.69

State Foundation

12,192,564.00

Other State Aid

12,921,133.30

Local Revenue

1,242,998.80

Debt Service-Taxes

16,807,832.52

Total Revenue

$139,018,833.31

Communications

  • The Communications Department continues to:

    • Oversee the marketing and advertising budget for the Pulaski County Special School District.

    • Actively retain students zoned for PCSSD while also recruiting students outside of the District zones.

      • These retention and recruitment efforts are managed through organic and paid marketing efforts via social media and local media (i.e., Arkansas Business Publishing Group publications, Savvy, Power 92.3FM, THV11, KATV, etc.).

    • Effectively coordinate media relations with local media to promote District initiatives, school events, student and teacher successes, educational opportunities, and much more.

      • Media relations are managed through regular press releases, media advisories, web stories, and social media posts to publicize newsworthy events and happenings around the District.

    • Maintain an annual calendar of events for the District and school-specific events, planned closures, holidays, and more. The District website updates at Google calendar with this information on the main website. PDF versions of an “at-a-glance calendar” for families and our “grid calendar” for staff are available.

    • Communicate with stakeholders when there is a need to pivot instructional plans due to inclement weather.

    • Implement and execute a strategic social media plan to disseminate information to all stakeholders (parents, staff, students, and the community).

      • PCSSD currently has more than 16,000 Facebook fans, over 3,000 Instagram followers, and almost 4,100 Twitter followers.

    • Handle crisis communication situations for the entire District and assist with necessary communication needs 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 continues in a smaller capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The PCSSD website (pcssd.org) network:

    • The district website accrued over 1.5 million page views during the 2020-2021 school year.

    • The district website also encompasses 26 individual school websites, which now include the DRIVEN Virtual Academy.

      • There is an additional site for the Center of Innovation.

  • The Communications Department had several successful endeavors in the 2020-2021 school year: 

    • Continued effective communication with all stakeholders amid the COVID-19 pandemic

    • Received national recognition for work on COVID-19 back to school preparations

      • Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for the 2020-2021 Roadmap to Reopening

      • Award of Excellence for its PCSSD Promotional Brochure as well as the PCSSD COVIDV-19 Communication Guidance. 

      • Award of Merit in social media for the “Teachers Show Encouragement During AMI” campaign.

    • Further perfected its branding efforts with updates to school branding guides and improved the design of many school logos.

  • During the 2021-2022 school year, the Communications Department will enhance current marketing tactics and expand with new projects:

    • Launched a new Google Site that houses all-district branding materials on August 1, 2021.

    • Introduced a revised, fresh logo concept for Mills University Studies High School that reflects its historical school name and brand identity.

    • Refresh the logo for Harris Elementary to reflect its historic “yellow-gold” color pattern that coincides with the yellow and green branding of the Mills feeder schools (Mills Middle and Mills University Studies High School).

    • Enhance internal communication within all departments to ensure all staff members are aware of the efforts of the communication department. This additional piece of internal communication will also allow the department to facilitate additional opportunities for community events within departments.

Contact

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