GARFIELD, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Board of Education’s Charter Authorization Panel voted today to defer approval for a planned charter school in Garfield.

In January, the Rogers School Board announced it would close the historic Garfield Elementary School due to enrollment and financial issues.

Rogers will be closing Garfield Elementary School in the 2024-25 school year. Once Rogers closes the school, there will be no school in Garfield. 

Joy Sawyer, a Northwest Arkansas educator, is helming the effort to establish a charter school in the area, dubbed Garfield Scholars’ Academy.

“The Garfield Scholars’ Academy will exist to empower our scholars to be purposeful learners, critical and creative thinkers, motivated citizens and leaders and determined lifelong learners through our innovative emphasis in the areas of economics and agriculture,” Sawyer said during a meeting with the panel.

During the meeting, one of the charter school’s leaders revealed that the project has pooled $54,000 in pledges from community donors.

Additionally, the school plans to partner with the First Baptist Church of Garfield, which has voted to lease use of church facilities and grounds for $1 a month.

Joshua Bryant, an Arkansas state senator, spoke in support of the school.

“This charter school will absolutely be adopted and supported by the community,” Bryant said.

The charter school’s leaders say that they are confident that the community is ready and willing to support a charter school in Garfield.

The panel gave the school’s leaders 60 days to address concerns and answer questions about the school.

This is a developing story.