Panel Supports Little Rock Charter System’s Expansion Plan

Ozark Montessori Academy

An Arkansas education panel has approved a plan for a Little Rock-area charter school system to expand into Springdale.

The Charter Authorizing Panel on Monday voted to allow LISA Academy to take over the struggling Ozark Montessori Academy charter school in Springdale, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The charter system in Little Rock and Sherwood has been looking to open schools in a new part of the state, according to Luanne Baroni, LISA Academy’s assistant superintendent.

The panel also approved increasing LISA Academy’s student enrollment cap by 300 to accommodate a total of 3,000 students. The charter had requested an increase of 600 students.

Ozark Montessori Academy administrators are confident that surrendering the charter is the best option for students, the school’s superintendent Barbara Padgett told the panel this week. The school received a D-letter grade from the state and has been held back by financial and academic issues.

The transition from a Montessori education program to a school that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math is scheduled for the end of June. The Montessori method focuses on self-directed student learning in which teachers are facilitators, rather than lecturers.

Padgett said most parents have been receptive for the changes planned for the school. Families of 134 students have indicated that they’ll keep their children enrolled next year, she said.

The Arkansas Board of Education will next vote on the issue. The board can either accept the panel’s decisions or conduct its own review of the charter system’s plan before making a final ruling.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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