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The state's Charter Authorizing Panel on Tuesday approved plans by Capital City Lighthouse Charter School in North Little Rock to discontinue service to sixth through eighth grades after their modular classroom building flooded last week.

LaShawnda Noel, Lighthouse Academies regional director for operations, told the panel that the building at 3901 Virginia Drive was destroyed when the Arkansas River overran its banks during historic flooding in central Arkansas.

The loss of the one building made it necessary for 49 pupils to be immediately shifted to a sister campus -- Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School -- to complete this school year that ends for students this Friday, Noel said.

The pupils will have the opportunity, she added, to choose to attend the Jacksonville campus in the future or receive assistance in transferring to schools outside the Lighthouse Academies network of schools.

Specifically, Capital City Lighthouse Charter School will continue to serve kindergarten through fifth-graders -- who are served in an adjoining but undamaged, more permanent building on higher ground -- this school year and into the future. There are about 165 pupils currently in kindergarten through fifth grades.

The state panel's decision to modify the school's state-issued charter is now subject to review by the state Board of Education. The board can accept the panel's decision or choose to conduct its own hearing as a basis for making a decision on the request.

Noel told the panel that the North Little Rock campus is not considered to be in a flood zone but there was a "perfect storm" of events that resulted in the soaking of the property that backs up to Burns Park.

"We explored all viable options," Noel told the state panel about the school's response to the destruction and the decision to permanently discontinue service to sixth through eighth grades.

In response to questions, Noel said the school leaders -- with the help of community members and staff from the North Little Rock School District -- were able to save the contents of the modular building.

"It was a great community effort," she told the panel that is chaired by Ivy Pfeffer, state Education Department commissioner.

The charter panel also on Tuesday accepted the surrender of conversion charters issued some years back to the Beebe School District for its Badger Academy and to the Texarkana School District for its Washington Academy Charter School. Those decisions were sent to the state Education Board.

Conversion charters are issued to traditional school districts to enable the districts to waive some state rules and laws that typically apply in traditional school settings.

Both Beebe and Texarkana have used their state-awarded charters to serve students who are not successful in traditional school settings and need alternative learning environments.

Leaders from both districts told the state charter panel that they now intend to contract with the Arch Ford Educational Services Cooperative, based in Plumerville, to provide the alternative learning environments for students.

The Arch Ford program will feature more mental health services, career training and flexible scheduling for students than is now available at the existing conversion charter schools.

Metro on 06/12/2019

Print Headline: Flooded charter school in North Little Rock to drop 3 grades

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