The Little Rock School District Board meets today at 5:30 p.m. Consideration of the district’s current mask mandate and a proposed pay hike for teachers and staff are both on the agenda.

The meeting will be live streamed, and you can watch it on the LRSD You Tube channel here.

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Board members are expected to keep the mask mandate in place, at least until younger students are cleared for COVID-19 vaccines and have time to get their shots and develop immunity. That will likely take until the beginning of 2022.

Proposed raises being considered tonight would be retroactive to the start of the school year, and would cost $12.3 million for 2021-22. The plan up for consideration  calls for raising the starting salary for new teachers to $48,000 by 2023, up from the current rate of $36,000. Veteran teachers’ salaries would be adjusted significantly too, as much as $10,000 over the next three years. The salary adjustments being proposed would put LRSD teacher salaries among the highest in the state.

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A caveat included in the 99-page plan calls for “right-sizing” to help cover the cost of these pay raises.

In the interest of full transparency and with a goal of collaboration, we must disclose what must occur during the 2021-2022 school year for these goals to be met. First, the district will have to “right-size.” Under-enrolled schools should be closed as it is not fiscally responsible for those schools to continue to operate. Additionally, positions will be reduced across the district, from Administration to the school level, as current staffing levels are not sustainable as we continue to lose enrollment.

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