Monday, February 24, 2014

TOP STORY >> Agency extends charter school

Leader senior staff writer

Renewal for the Jacksonville Lighthouse Academy’s open- enrollment charter school sailed smoothly through a hearing with the state Education Department’s charter authorizing panel on Wednesday. But the  waters were a bit choppier for Maumelle’s Academic Plus Charter School.

The Jacksonville school — represented by Phyllis Anderson, the national vice president of Lighthouse Academies — had requested a 10-year renewal of its charter, but agreed to a three-year renewal when panel member Karen Walters said the school has yet to grow into 11th and 12th grades. Walters said she’d like wait on data then.

Lighthouse has four Jacksonville campuses and operates grades K-10, adding one grade a year.

Academics Plus, the Maumelle charter school, was granted a three-year renewal and authority to increase enrollment by 200 students to 850 over the next two school years — but not without opposition from the Pulaski County Special School District.

Represented by executive director Rob McGill, Academics Plus sought to increase its enrollment by 100 students next school year and another 100 the following year.

McGill, former superintendent of PCSSD, said the school would increase its minority and free-and-reduced lunch enrollment by adding a school bus to transport students in the Oak Grove, Morgan, Marche and Palarm communities.

PCSSD attorney Sam Jones testified — all participants are sworn in — that blacks, minorities and low-income students are still underrepresented.