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story.lead_photo.caption FILE PHOTO: SIATech Principal Katie Hatley Tatum answers questions May 14, 2014 from the Charter Authorizing Panel at the Arkansas Department of Education in Little Rock. - Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

A dropout-recovery charter high school in Little Rock is cutting ties with its national charter management organization and acquiring a new name.

On Tuesday, the state’s Charter Authorizing Panel unanimously approved a request by local leaders of SIATech Charter School to separate from the NEWCorp organization that had established the Arkansas campus in 2011 to serve up to 275 students in grades nine through 12.

SIATech stands for School for Integrated Academies and Technologies. NEWCorp stands for New Education for the Workplace.

Plans for the school — which are now subject to final approval by the Arkansas Board of Education — call for the Little Rock campus to continue to focus on young people who have not been successful in traditional high schools. The school intends to do that with a new curriculum and a new name: Graduate AR, effective July 1.

Chris Bell, a fiscal agent for the Little Rock school, said the national NEWCorp organization last year had pulled back services to the Little Rock campus and reduced its management fee that was $275,800 in the 2017-18 school year. But the fee is expected to increase for the coming year, Bell said and added that the local school is expected to save $250,000 by splitting from the management organization.

The state’s Charter Authorizing Panel — made up of Department of Education staff and various state civic leaders — had no concerns about the school’s financial status. The panel did direct Katie Hatley, school chief, report back to the panel in October on the selection of curriculum and any staffing changes.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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  • einnorray
    May 14, 2019 at 3:33 p.m.

    The panel had no concerns? How can you just save $250k? What was the $250 paid to the National operation for? So, let's assume they and hope that they provided services to the local charter school, Services that the local charter school will now have to provide for itself. Or was this truly profit on the part of the National Operations and no value added services were provided to begin with?