The state Board of Education denied applications from organizations seeking to open charter schools for at risk youths in Texarkana, West Memphis and Jonesboro.

The state Board of Education denied applications from
organizations seeking to open charter schools for at risk youths in
Texarkana, West Memphis and Jonesboro.  The Board also denied a request
to open a bilingual charter school in Little Rock for Spanish speaking
students learning English as a second language.

The Board postponed making a final decision on a fifth application, for
a regional charter based in Marianna that would offer alternative
education for students who have been expelled or have dropped out.

A new law enacted by the legislature earlier this year removed the limit
on the number of open enrollment charter schools that can operate in
Arkansas.  The limit had been 24 and there are 17 in operation.

Act 987 of 2011 says that when the number of charter schools gets to
within two of the existing limit, the limit automatically goes up by
five.  That means when the Board of Education approves 22 charter
schools, the limit will go up by five from 24 to 29 schools.

When the application period opened 14 organizations wrote to the Board
indicating their interest in applying for a charter school.  However,
not all followed through and only five official proposals were presented
to the Board.

The Board determined that the application to open a regional charter in
Marianna needs more work.  It is scheduled to come back before the Board
in January.  The school would be a technical institute geared for
students who have dropped out, have been expelled or have got into legal
trouble.  It would serve a five-county area in eastern Arkansas.

Charter schools are publicly funded.  They do not have to comply with
all the regulations that govern traditional public schools, as an
incentive to experiment with innovative learning strategies.  Charter
schools often focus on teaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds,
or children with exceptional skills.