Region 8 In Line for Three New Charter Schools

AUGUST 3, 2006 - Posted at 7:22 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas could reach the 24-school cap on open-enrollment charter schools, based on the number of applications submitted to the state by groups that want to open new schools.

Planners for 19 schools, including three in Region 8, submitted such letters to state officials by this year's deadline.  Two are proposed in Mississippi County, including the Great River Academic Center for Excellence in Gosnell, specializing in academics, fine arts and technology for grades K-12, and the Great River Academic Center for Excellence Early College Charter Program in Blytheville, specializing in college credit in high school for grades K-12.  Another proposed school is in Critttenden County, which would host the Helping Young People Excel (HYPE School), in Crawfordsville, specializing in academics, health and athletics, for grades K-8.

Currently, the state has 18 charter schools.  Eight of them are open-enrollment institutions.  A 2005 state law limits the number of open-enrollment schools to 24...six in each of the state's four congressional districts.

That means if all eight of the current open-enrollment schools continue operating, and prospective organizers of all 19 proposed new schools follow through with formal applications, some must certainly be denied.  Final decisions are made by the state Education Board.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)