Little Rock mayor seeks charter school limits

FILE — Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott is shown at the state Capitol in Little Rock.
FILE — Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott is shown at the state Capitol in Little Rock.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said he will ask the state to put a moratorium on new charter school seats in Little Rock, his communications director said Thursday.

Scott initially said he would make that request in a reply to a comment this week from Arkansas Times Editor Max Brantley in "Friends of LRSD," a public Facebook group for supporters of the Little Rock School District.

The state caps the number of charter schools allowed in Arkansas at 34. As of March 1, there were 26 active open-enrollment charter schools or systems. At least one new charter school has applied to open in Little Rock for the 2020-21 school year.

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Some education advocates have been critical of charter schools as discussions continue about how the Little Rock district will be returned to local control, saying their expansion in the city harms the district.

Kimberly Mundell, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the agency had not received a request from the mayor as of midday Thursday.

"Until we do, we don't have a comment," she said in an email.

In a written statement Thursday evening, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was confident the mayor's proposal would be considered by the charter authorizing panel and the state Board of Education, and that new charter schools shouldn't be opened without sufficient demand.

"The ability of LRSD to successfully compete with public charter schools was demonstrated this year as the LRSD grew in student enrollment," Hutchinson said in the statement. "Charter schools have provided choice for parents, but they should not be increased without a demonstrated need."

Metro on 11/01/2019

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