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The Arkansas Board of Education voted on Thursday to allow a plan to alter the academic program and expand the grades served at what is now Quest Academy of West Little Rock.

The school plan would in effect add elementary grades beginning in 2021-22 to an already operating sixth-through-12th-grade school on Rahling Road on Little Rock’s west side.

And the administration can transform the charter school into a classical liberal-arts school for both elementary and secondary school students.

The request before the state board from Responsive Education Solutions, the Lewisville, Texas, charter management organization for Quest Academy, asked the state to:

— Give up Quest Academy’s separate charter with the state at the end of this school year and attach the Little Rock school to the organization’s Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy, a charter school that serves kindergarten-through-12th grades in Bentonville.

— Transform Quest Academy from a career education and technology-focused program for middle and high school students to a classical academy similar to that in Bentonville, beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

— Increase the enrollment cap for the Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy from 1,200 to 1,500 students to accommodate both the Bentonville and Little Rock schools.

The request won unanimous approval Oct. 18 from the state’s Charter Authorizing Panel.

The proposed expansion of the west Little Rock charter school comes at a time when the number of independently operated, taxpayer-funded charter schools is continuing to increase in Pulaski County. At the same time, the traditional Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts have opened new secondary schools in their western sectors.

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