Aug. 22, the state Board of Education took over the Bald Knob School District, dismissing the superintendent and school board and telling administrators that if they couldn't find a way to retire a substantial portion of the district's $2 million debt in the next 30 days, they'd be annexed with a neighboring district.
Still, given there are other school districts in dire financial straits, the amount of TLC being lavished on the Bald Knob School District by Little Rock NBC affiliate KARK Channel 4 struck us as unusual. The KARK website features a large banner ad that leads to a Bald Knob “Save Our School” donation page, and on Sept. 7, the KARK morning show held a kind of mini-telethon for the school, broadcasting live from the Bald Knob High School gym and helping raise over $150,000.
Why all the attention from KARK? Well, some might say it's because Channel 4 news director Rob Heverling is a Bald Knob grad whose father retired as superintendent of the Bald Knob School District three years ago. Heverling said that the producer of the KARK morning show is also an alumnus of the school.
Heverling said that it was actually morning show anchor Matt Mosler who approached him about helping out Bald Knob. He said he had anticipated criticism, but station heads said the idea “absolutely fit” with the station's “4 the Greater Good” campaign. Beyond that, Heverling said, his connections to Bald Knob had “no bearing whatsoever” on the decision to help out the school.
Getting history right
Historians displeased with the state Education Department's new guidelines for teaching Arkansas history in the public schools apparently will meet with Education Department officials Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 17-19) in an effort to reach a compromise. Tom Dillard of Fayetteville, one of the disgruntled historians, said he was displeased that the dissidents weren't consulted before the meeting dates were set by Gayle Potter, associate director of curriculum assessment and research at the Education Department. Dillard, the head of special collections for the University of Arkansas Libraries, also was unhappy when told that the meetings might be closed to the public. Dillard said he wouldn't participate in closed meetings unless the Education Department could offer a good reason why they should be closed.
Besides Dillard, the dissidents invited to the meetings are Tom DeBlack, a history professor at Arkansas Tech University; Tim Latham, a public-school history teacher in Mayflower; Margaret Grimes, a public-school history teacher in Conway, and Bobby Roberts of Little Rock, director of the Central Arkansas Library System.