The Pine Bluff Branch of the NAACP will conduct an Education Forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7, at the UAPB Business Incubator, 615 S. Main St., to discuss the possibility of consolidating Pine Bluff, Dollarway and Watson Chapel School districts “for the continued success of our students, to raise student achievement and to remove barriers that keep our children from having a successful future in the city of Pine Bluff,” a news release said.


“Superintendent Michael Robinson (Pine Bluff School District), Barbara Warren (Dollarway School District), and Connie Hathorn (Watson Chapel School District) are all invited to be at this all-important forum.”


Irene Holcomb is the chair of the branch education committee and the city of Pine Bluff alderwoman emeritus; her committee members, Mary Liddell, Kylon Montgomery (UAPB College Chapter), Wanda V. Neal, Piccola Washington and Katrina Williamson, said they felt that this forum would help the Pine Bluff community to get a better understanding of the direction that the city must look at to improve the school system, according to the news release.


Now-retired Watson Chapel Superintendent Connie Hathorn recently said that consolidation “can work, but it takes the right leadership. If you do that, kids can have more opportunities.”


Hathorn went on to say, “If you have one school district with one curriculum aligned across each school, kids won’t have much of a change when transferring from school to school.”


In order to consolidate, the affected districts must file a petition with the State Board of Education that contains the signatures of a majority of the qualified electors in the district. Then, a majority of the qualified electors must vote to approve the consolidation, and the board of directors of the districts must approve a resolution to consolidate.


Details: Contact Ivan Whitfield, Pine Bluff NAACP branch president, at (870) 643-7252, or Holcomb at (870) 536-5474.