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Decisions approving west LR charter, denying Redfield charter upheld

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published January 10, 2014 at 12:41 p.m.


Responsive Education Solutions Chief Financial Officer James Taylor addresses the Arkansas Board of Education at its meeting Friday.

The Arkansas Board of Education voted Friday to uphold earlier decisions approving one charter school in west Little Rock and denying another charter in rural Jefferson County.

The members voted 6-2 to affirm a Nov. 14, 2013, decision from the Charter Authorizing Panel to allow Quest Middle School of West Little Rock at a planned site on Rahling Road.

The Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts contested the application, telling the board Friday that the Quest budget was based on incorrect projections on how many of its students would be eligible for free- and reduced-price school meals.

Chris Heller, an attorney for the Little Rock district, added that curriculum planned by Responsive Education, the group that proposed the Quest school, wasn't notably different or more innovative than existing schools offer. And, he said, the charter school could complicate Little Rock's efforts to build a new middle school in west Little Rock.

But Responsive Education officials said the school is projected to have a small surplus even if it reduces the number of students receiving free- and reduced-price lunches to 35 percent of its population. Responsive Ed has had financial and academic successes in Texas and in Pine Bluff, where a Quest Middle School opened last year, the officials said.

"We are fully committed as an organization and as a group ..., to the financial and academic success of Quest Middle School of West Little Rock," Chief Financial Officer James Taylor told the board.

Quest is expected to open in the fall, serving 220 students in its first year.

Supporters of the Redfield Tri-County Charter School addressed the state board earlier Friday, asking the body to overturn the unanimous Nov. 14, 2013, vote by the Charter Authorizing Panel to deny the application for that charter.

The board last month agreed to reconsider the application after supporters said some members of the authorizing panel were looking at the wrong budget at that November meeting.

Amanda Kight, secretary for the school's board of directors, said the proposed grades-fifth-through-12th school is financially viable and a needed addition to a rural community where some students are now bused 20 miles to school.

That means many parents now have neither the time nor money to be regularly involved with the school and it means lengthy travel times for students, Kight said.

"Families are looking for an opportunity for their children to attend a school closer to home," Kight said, saying it would create a "much more rewarding learning experience."

Some board members said the curriculum plan — described at the meeting as being focused on college and career readiness — needs to be further developed. The body ultimately voted 7-1 to uphold the panel's earlier decision.

"I really do hope we will see you all again next year," board member Mireya Reith said.

"You will," Kight replied.


Comments on: Decisions approving west LR charter, denying Redfield charter upheld

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 total comments

GWayne says... January 10, 2014 at 4:11 p.m.

My, Is'nt Little Rock always favored? Redfield need it!!!Big Money always rules!

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JakeTidmore says... January 10, 2014 at 4:54 p.m.

Walton money gave Fib Newton the boost he needed to promote his attacks and misinformation campaign against LRSD.

Sorry, Redfield. But, the board does require a very detailed plan, both academic and economic. Any shortcomings in the paperwork means an automatic disapproval until those problems can be fixed.

Don't hesitate to try the Fibber Newtown method: badmouth and demean the public schools, cherry pick the stats, and grab a hineyload of Walton money to help bust up public schools. And pray that you're one of the rare, lucky ones who gets the 1 out of 6 schools that will do just slightly better than the public schools (basically by taking away their best students) and not the 5 out of 6 who do no better and mostly worse than the public brand (Stanford study).

Don't forget to ask about the variety of scandals afflicting charter schools, repeated problems with finances or poor academic results (in fact, one from Maumelle was just in the news a day or so ago begging to get another chance to corrrect those far below standard scores), the removal of parental control by eliminating school boards, and the fact that the supposed cost saving is a myth because the federal government and your tax money is used to support these kids. Ask them about unacceptable discipline procedures, high teacher turnover.

Just ask yourself this: if the charter school is so great, then why do their supporters spend most of their time casting aspersions at the public schools? Why do they deal out so much misinformation about themselves and about public schools?

Yes, some of the public schools need help. But, beware the snake oil salesmen who show up on your doorstep, who are long on promises and short on results.

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RaylanGivens says... January 10, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

Sweet! Great news, suck it FakeTiddy

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RaylanGivens says... January 10, 2014 at 8:36 p.m.

And also, complicate plans for a new middle school in WLR? I guess all of those millions the LRSD/PCSSD spends every year on the busing has put them back into the 1900's when planning for a new middle school. You've built 2 elementaries with Chenal and Roberts since 2007; no middle school and no plan whatsoever. We could follow FakeTid's lead and go back into the 1800's if so desired. He does not want progress that might help; he needs something to whine about since it does not concern him

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