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Lincoln forfeits charter with state

District works on independent plan by Evie Blad | August 14, 2012 at 2:37 a.m.

— The Lincoln Consolidated School District forfeited its agreement with the state for a district-run charter school Monday.

The move came as former Superintendent Frank Holman worked to finalize an application for an independently run charter school that would mimic the program he helped create in his former district, located in Washington County.

If approved by the Arkansas Board of Education, America’s Charter School would enroll students fromthroughout the state in a blend of online and face-toface classes depending on their needs, Holman said in an interview Monday.

“It’s customized - personalized really - based on the needs of the individual student and their family,” he said.

Holman spoke after the board accepted the Lincoln district’s plans to turn in its charter for the Lincoln Academic Center of Excellence, which wasn’t set to expire until June 2014.

The district-run school, which had an enrollmentcap of 300 students, had only about 25 students registered for classes at last count, Lincoln Superintendent Clay Hendrix said.

“We never came close to our enrollment cap,” he said.

Holman said that greater flexibility will allow his proposed school to enroll more students.

Charter schools are public schools that are granted waivers from certain state regulations related to areas such as staffing, scheduling or course offerings. In exchange, they commit to agreements called charters that outline goals and learning expectations.

Open-enrollment charter schools, such as the one Holman has proposed, are operated by independent organizations. They have no designated enrollment boundaries, allowing them to attract students from wider geographic areas.

District conversion charter schools, such as the one previously operated in Lincoln, are run by school districts and enroll students from within their boundaries.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell told board members that the district conversion charter school’s enrollment dropped when the state enforced a provision in its charter agreement that required at least 20 hours of face-to-facelearning per week for each student.

In violation of the charter, some students from faraway towns such as Heber Springs had used the state’s school transfer laws to move their attendance to the Lincoln district, taking all of their classes online through the school.

The state gave the district a choice of seeking to revise its charter or requiring its students to fulfill the faceto-face requirement. When many students who were unable to make the drive withdrew from the school, the district opted to shut it down, Kimbrell said.

Holman said his charter application, due Aug. 31, will outline plans to allow greater amounts of online learning for certain students, making geography less of an issue.

“Let’s use every tool available to help all of the students across the state,” he said.

If approved, Holman’s proposed school would open in the 2013-14 academic year and enroll up to 500 students in grades 8-12.

Northwest Arkansas, Pages 7 on 08/14/2012

Print Headline: Lincoln forfeits charter with state

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