Pine Bluff School District Board holds first meeting since release from state control


The Pine Bluff School Board held its first monthly meeting Monday evening, less than a week after they gained local control from the state.  This meeting was considered historic according to Superintendent Jennifer Barbaree who explained that the district has been under state control since 2018.

During the meeting, the board approved their financial report for the period and a special meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 27th to approve the yearly budget of approximately $61,455,039.56. 

The next item on the board agenda was special recognitions featuring the ‘Showing our Stripes Awards’ featuring several student highlights, community member awards, and internal staff awards. 

During the superintendent’s report, Barbaree began discussing information regarding board members moving forward without state control. Dr. Pamela Ervin the executive administrative assistant to the superintendent elaborated more on that process moving forward. 

Professional Learning Communities was featured in the report which highlighted a presentation on the PLC goals for each school within the district. During the PLC, the data for the beginning of the year was presented highlighting statistics for students. Overall, for the Star Reading Assessment student’s 2nd through 11th grew from 9.9% to 13.8% overall. For the Star Math Assessment, the progress for 2nd through 11th grades overall increased for each grade this year. 

Barbaree went on to introduce an organization that specializes in literacy, leadership, curriculum development, and school improvement called Educational Epiphany. Educational Epiphany’s founder Donyall D. Dickey presented a presentation to the board advocating his services that have been effective around the country and in parts of Arkansas such as Little Rock and Pulaski County.

 Barbaree was asked why she thinks the districts need Educational Epiphany’s services, and she responded this way. 

During the new business, the board approved the contract with Educational Epiphany to get instructional support through APR ESSER Funds. 

The board elected a board disbursing officer and board member Ricky Whitmore Jr. was elected in that capacity. The board also approved a resolution for updating signers on all district bank accounts which includes the disbursing officer and the superintendent Ms. Barbaree. 

Several other items were approved including a policy approval update, Jefferson County Election Invoice, Pine Bluff Psychological Associates Contract for the 2023-2024 school year, and purchases of I-K Electric network upgrade. For curriculum purchase, the board approved the 95 Percent Group that supplies teachers with the knowledge and support needed to develop strong readers and Progress Learning which provides instructional resources and content solutions for grades K-12th.