In the coming weeks, Barbara Warren will begin hosting community forums electronically and in person, pending Arkansas Department of Health guidance.

Still basking in the glory, Barbara Warren said she is overwhelmed by the tremendous support and the congratulatory response she received after Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announced earlier today that Warren would serve a dual role as superintendent of the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts for the 2020-2021 school year.

“I was in a meeting with my staff and had the opportunity to share with them the news when the announcement came out,” said Warren. “They were all so uplifting and I told them it was a team effort.”

Warren who is a Pine Bluff native, worked for the Pine Bluff School District in 2000 for approximately 10 years as a special assistant to the former superintendent, a role she said prepared her for future opportunities.

Warren’s new role will begin July 1. She will replace Dr. Jeremy Owoh at Pine Bluff who is leaving to become a deputy superintendent in the Little Rock School District.

“Ms. Warren is uniquely qualified to serve in this innovative role due to her familiarity with the community and the similar nature of the academic improvement processes in both districts,” Key said. “Progress has been made in the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts, and the appointment of Ms. Warren in this dual role will ensure growth continues toward providing quality educational options for all students.”

Warren has served as the superintendent of the Dollarway School District since December 2015.

In 2018, after the state took control of the Pine Bluff School District, conversations about school consolidation between Dollarway, Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel became a hot topic of discussion between local teachers, parents and other residents, which Warren said she disagreed with.

While every superintendent agreed that for the betterment of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County community that all schools, including White Hall, needed to be under one umbrella, at that time Warren did not.

In a statement written to the Pine Bluff Commercial from Warren in 2018, she said consolidation or merging the districts was not the answer to the challenges and concerns that they faced in education within the community.

Though conversations have ceased since then, Warren sees herself as part of the solution, stating as a person of faith, her dual duties matched what she was called to do.

When asked if a consolidation was in the foreseeable future of Pine Bluff School District and Dollarway now that she was the superintendent of both, she said she hadn’t really thought about that.

“I admit I did not agree with it a few years ago but with one superintendent, you are easily connected with shared resources,” said Warren who said approximately 100 students from the community had been lost. “In education we learn how to make anything work either way, being together or being separate. We have so many similarities but we are very different but we are on the same track.”

According to Key, Warren’s efforts in Dollarway have stabilized the district’s finances and staffing, and the academic system has improved during her tenure through a focus on student learning through the Professional Learning Communities process.

Under Dr. Owoh’s leadership, Pine Bluff is pursuing a similar trajectory in addressing financial issues and improving student learning through the PLC process.

Before anything, Warren states she is most excited to reintroduce herself and meet the wonderful community she will be serving.

“Even though I from here and worked here, a lot has changed and I have to get to know it all over again, the community and the school district,” said Warren.

In the coming weeks, Warren will begin hosting community forums electronically and in person, pending Arkansas Department of Health guidance. These meetings will give the public the opportunity to provide feedback about collaboration, how the districts can improve efficiency through shared services, and plans for the upcoming school year.

The first meeting will take place on May 28, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. via ZOOM and Facebook Live. That link will be shared in the near future.

This will be a joint meeting with Superintendents Owoh, where the public will be given the opportunity to ask questions and to share feedback.

Key said parents and students should not anticipate changes in the day-to-day operations of the districts and that both districts will continue to function as they have in the past but with a single leader.

“I’ve lived here, grown here, and served in both of these districts,” said Warren. “I’m blessed, honored and happy to serve my community.”