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AR Board of Education votes to review Little Rock Charter Schools Proposal

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The Arkansas Board of Education made a decision in regards to the two charter school expansion requests they've received.

E-Stem and LISA Academy put in requests to expand their Little Rock schools that was originally approved by the state's Charter School Council. The Board held the final decision on whether or not to review the requests.

In two 6 to 1 votes, the board voted to review both requests.

Original reports cited about 3000 students that would be impacted in Little Rock School District.

Representatives from both charter schools were disappointed with Thursday's decision.

Luanne Baroni, principal at LISA Academy West Middle School and CEO of Estem, John Bacon, were both in attendance.

"I am not totally surprised but am disappointed that our plan has been stalled after we felt like it had been fully vetted by the charter authorizing panel the timing is important to us. we will regroup and come back and present again," Baroni said.

"We have been through this process once already with the charter authorizing panel. we had a very intense and thorough hearing two and a half hours. talked about a lot of issues they saw. The beauty of the idea. The power of this for families the respect of the 6400 families that are on our waiting list," Bacon said.

The board's main argument was based on implementing more community involvement.

"We are at a point now where all of us are trying to think about what's best. no matter which side you're on. Nobody can plan. No matter which side you're on," Senator Joyce Elliot said.

Baroni said it is inaccurate to look at both proposals in the same light.

"I believe what LISA Academy is asking for is a very small completion of our k-12 system. in west little rock and honestly will impact very few students in the little rock school district. I think lumping us together with E-Stem makes it looks a bigger deal that what we are asking really is," Baroni said.

Bill Kopsky has two kids in the district... he says he is relieved that a hearing has been set.

" I was kind of taken aback from some of the comments that compared schools to cars. shopping centers, to hard ware stores. my child is not a car, my child is not a store, my child is not a widget or screwdriver. public schools were written into our founding fathers documents and into the state constitution because they are not a commodity," Kopsky said. "My children are going to be in the little rock school district for 15 more years they are young children and they are the center of my life. it is really important to me that the state board consider not just these charter schools in isolation but their greater impact around them

Each school will prepare for the April meeting.

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