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Arkansas education board approves 2 new virtual charter schools

by Cynthia Howell | May 12, 2022 at 3:56 p.m.
Amber Graham, a K-12 special education teacher, demonstrates how multiple screens are used to teach virtually and traditionally at Searcy Learning Center in this Nov. 11, 2020 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday approved the establishment of two virtual charter schools — each of which can serve students statewide.

The 7-0 votes for each of the schools came after the state’s Charter Authorizing Panel reviewed and voted in support of the plans in April. One of the schools is a high school serving grades 9-12, and the other serves students in grades kindergarten through 12.

The Education Board accepted the panel decisions Thursday without any questions or discussion, and without any opposition from other school systems.

The two new virtual schools constitute amendments to previously approved state charters for operating open-enrollment charter schools. One virtual school is being added to the charter for the Founders Classical Academy system, and the other is being added to the Premier High Schools of Arkansas system.

The two newly approved virtual schools will be the fourth and fifth online schools in the state.

Arkansas Virtual Academy, Arkansas Connections Academy and the LISA Academy Arkansas Hybrid School are already in operation. The LISA Hybrid school offers virtual instruction but also requires students to be on-site for a half day every other week for intervention and enrichment.

Some traditional public school districts have also started their own online schools. The Little Rock School District, for example, operates the digital Ignite Academies for elementary and for secondary school students. The Pulaski County Special District operates the Driven virtual school.

More details in Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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