University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

This Week: Open-Enrollment Charter Authorizing Hearings

In The View from the OEP on November 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm

This week, Arkansas’ new Charter Authorizing Panel will hold hearings for open-enrollment charter schools on Tuesday and Wednesday. The new panel is comprised of seven members within the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), including Commissioner Tom Kimbrell, who is the chair of the new panel. In a recent policy brief, we outline the charter authorizer landscape across the United States and give background on Arkansas’ new charter authorizer. The new panel oversees the authorization of open-enrollment and district conversion charter schools; this week, the panel is hearing requests for proposed open-enrollment schools. In January, the panel will hold hearings for proposed district conversion charter schools.

Seven proposed charter schools have submitted applications to open in the 2014-15 school year. According to a Commissioner’s Memo, up to five open-enrollment charter schools can be authorized in the 2013-14 application cycle (19 open-enrollment schools exist and the laws allow the cap to be extended to 24 open-enrollment schools). Below we detail each of the seven proposed open-enrollment charter schools. Find the proposed schools’ application here.

Proposed Charter Capitol City Lighthouse Charter School, National Network: Lighthouse Academies. 3 Charters in Arkansas: Jacksonville, Jacksonville Flightline, Pine Bluff.
Location North Little Rock
Districts projected to pull from North Little Rock SD, Little Rock SD, Pulaski County Special SD
Grade levels K-12
2014-15 Grade levels K-6 (Add one grade per year in subsequent years)
Enrollment 750
2014-15 Enrollment 344 students; Projected 71% FRL
Focus “To prepare our students for college through a rigorous arts-infused program; rigorous Academics, Social Development and Arts Infusion.”
Other Extended day; extended year
Proposed Charter Exalt Academy of Southwest Little Rock, Exalt Education, Inc., 1 Campus in Arkansas: Little Rock Preparatory Academy
Location Little Rock
Districts projected to pull from Little Rock SD, Pulaski County Special SD
Grade levels K-8
2014-15 Grade levels K-3 (Add one grade per year in subsequent years)
Enrollment 540
2014-15 Enrollment 180 students; Projected 100% FRL
Focus “Prepare students from educationally under-served areas of Southwest Little Rock for competitive colleges and advanced careers from an early age by ensuring mastery of the core subjects and developing the key behaviors required for success, citizenship and leadership in their communities and beyond; liberal arts educational experience”
Other Extended day; extended year
Proposed Charter Ozark College and Career Academy
Location Springdale
Districts projected to pull from Springdale SD, Bentonville SD, Rogers SD, Fayetteville SD, Gentry SD, Siloam Springs SD, Pea Ridge SD, Huntsville SD, Greenland SD
Grade levels K-12
2014-15 Grade levels K-2, 6-8 (Add two grades per year in subsequent years)
Enrollment 250
2014-15 Enrollment 108 students; Projected 54% FRL
Focus “Empower K-12 students to excel academically, discover their talents, and advance toward their dreams through 21st Century learning models.”
Other Montessori-based Early Childhood Program; Project-based Learning
Proposed Charter Quest Middle School of West Little Rock, National Network: ResponsiveEd. 3 Charters in Arkansas: Pine Bluff, Little Rock, Bentonville
Location Little Rock
Districts projected to pull from Little Rock SD, North Little Rock SD, Pulaski County Special SD, Benton SD, Bryant SD, Lonoke SD, England SD
Grade levels 6-12
2014-15 Grade levels 6-8 (Add one grade per year in subsequent years)
Enrollment 490
2014-15 Enrollment 220; Projected 79% FRL
Focus “Innovative, encouraging, character-based, individualized learning environment, where they are academically successful and develop into lifelong learners.”
Proposed Charter Redfield Tri-County Charter School
Location Redfield
Districts projected to pull from White Hall SD, Sheridan SD, Pulaski County Special SD
Grade levels 5-12
2014-15 Grade levels 5-8 (Add one grade per year in subsequent years)
Enrollment 175
2014-15 Enrollment 175; Projected 60% FRL
Focus “Instill in each student core character values, a sense of community service, and a love of learning; empowered to achieve academic excellence and will be cognizant of their potential to change themselves and their community.”
Proposed Charter Young Adult Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy of South Mississippi County, National network: Magic Johnson Bridgescape
Location Osceola
Districts projected to pull from South Mississippi County SD, Osceola SD, Blytheville SD, Gosnell SD, Manila SD, Armorel SD
Grade levels 9-12
2014-15 Grade levels 9-12
Enrollment 250
2014-15 Enrollment 200; Projected 100% FRL
Focus “A specialized program focused on dropout prevention and recovery for students; provide an alternative graduation path for those who are at risk through dropout intervention services that include a self-paced quality education in a personalized environment with a focus on successful postsecondary transitions.”
Other Blended learning; individualized instruction
Proposed Charter Young Adult Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy of Crittenden County, National network: Magic Johnson Bridgescape
Location Sunset (West Memphis and Marion)
Districts projected to pull from Earle SD, Marion SD, West Memphis SD, Hughes SD, East Poinsett SD, Marked Tree SD, South Mississippi County SD
Grade levels 9-12
2014-15 Grade levels 9-12
Enrollment 250
2014-15 Enrollment 200; Projected 100% FRL
Focus “A specialized program focused on dropout prevention and recovery for students; provide an alternative graduation path for those who are at risk through dropout intervention services that include a self-paced quality education in a personalized environment with a focus on successful postsecondary transitions.”
Other Blended learning; individualized instruction

The hearings will begin each day at 8:30 AM in the ADE Auditorium. Read Wednesday’s agenda here and Thursday’s agenda here. On Wednesday, the Panel will first hear requests from existing charter schools to amend their charters. Then, the Panel will hold three hearings for proposed open-enrollment charter schools: Capitol City Lighthouse Charter School, Exalt Academy of Southwest Little Rock, and Ozark College and Career Academy. On Thursday, the Panel will hold the hearings for the remaining proposed open-enrollment charter schools: Quest Middle School of West Little Rock, Redfield Tri-County Charter School, Young Adult Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy of Crittenden County, and Young Adult Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy of Mississippi County. You can watch the hearings live here. 

While the hearings will follow the same procedures as in the past, with the first year of the new panel, we do not know what outcomes to expect. Of course, we will be following the hearings closely and updating our blog and Twitter account with the outcomes.

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