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Education notebook: Voucher rules comments due

by Cynthia Howell | August 27, 2023 at 4:10 a.m.

Voucher rules comments due

A short time remains for members of the public to give input on proposed rules for carrying out the Educational Freedom Accounts portion of the Arkansas Learns Act.

The deadline for submitting written comments on the draft rules regarding the state's new private school voucher program is the close of business on Monday.

The public comment contact name is Andres Rhodes, who is the chief legal counsel for the Arkansas Department of Education.

The public comment contact e-mail address is:

Comments can be hand-delivered to the Arch Ford Education Building at 4 Capitol Mall.

Here is a link to the draft rules:

Ultimately, the draft rules with any revisions will be submitted to the state Board of Education and then to the Legislative Council for final action.

The final rules will replace existing, emergency rules for carrying out the law.

A total of 4,813 students have applied and been approved for the Educational Freedom Accounts as of Friday. An additional 531 student applications are pending. A total of 94 private schools have applied and are approved to receive the taxpayer-funded voucher funds.

The Educational Freedom Accounts will provide $6,672 or $7,618 this year to eligible students to be used for private school tuition and other school-related costs. Students eligible for the higher dollar amount are those who participated last school year in a smaller publicly funded voucher system primarily for students with special education needs.

LRSD sets 2026 target for new HS

The target date for opening the Little Rock School District's new high school in the northwest part of the capital city is August 2026.

That's a year later than initially planned, district leaders said last week. Site preparation -- including the monthslong job of repositioning utility lines -- is being started while building design work is being completed and submitted to various state and city agencies for review.

Started well before work on the high school campus and to be completed earlier is the Dr. Marian G. Lacey Academy for kindergarten through eighth grades. That new Little Rock School District campus -- built on the site of the old McClellan High School at 9417 Geyer Springs Road -- is expected to open in August 2024, as is the hugely renovated Rockefeller Early Childhood Education Center at 700 E. 17th St.

At Little Rock Central High, construction of an indoor athletic facility and a three-story science building is expected to be completed in phases, with the athletic facility completed first and then the science building by August 2025.

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