Leader Blues

Monday, August 13, 2007

TOP STORY >>Public meeting set for Friday

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

All interested persons are encouraged to attend the public meeting August 17 to assess Jacksonville’s interest in operating open-enrollment public charter schools in the community.

The charter school concept will also be explained during the 6 p.m. meeting at Jacksonville City Hall.

The public’s thoughts are sought on the matter either in person or in writing to Dr. Caroline Proctor, the executive director of Arkansas Charter School Resource Center at the University of Arkansas, Graduate Education 201, Fayetteville, Ark., 72701.

Community members are also asked to respond by email to the community-needs assessment located at www.ARreform.org, using passcode 1100 for central Arkansas.

The needs assessment will establish local support, interest and needs for the area.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce members are supporting the petition to the Arkansas State Board of Education to open charter schools in town due to recent problems with the Pulaski County Special School District.

The charter school would be operated in connection with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and Arts (ASMSA) in Hot Springs or a stand-alone charter school focused on math, science, economics and the arts, or a combination of both.
Chamber member Mike Wilson spearheaded the proposal that he says “has the promise of helping our kids.”

A proposed location of the charter school is the old Main Street Furniture location across from First Arkansas Bank and Trust, a location adjacent to the new Nixon Library site.

Public charter schools are public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education Web site, the freedoms given a charter school allow more flexibility to implement creative and innovative programs and policies but are held more accountable for student success.

Arkansas currently has 17 public charter schools operating under contracts detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment and ways to measure success.

An open-enrollment school is a public charter school run by a governmental entity, an institution of higher learning or a tax-exempt non-sectarian organization. They can also draw students from across district boundaries.

The groups that commonly operate public charter schools include parents, teachers and community leaders, public schools and private entities.

These people want your opinions.