By Associated Press - Monday, October 8, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $23 million grant to a nonprofit to expand charter schools in Arkansas.

The money was awarded to the Arkansas Public School Resources Center, which will receive an initial $5.6 million to begin the expansion project, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The grant could support up to 30 new open-enrollment and conversion charter schools over five years, said Scott Smith, the center’s executive director.

“The focus is on quality schools and working with all populations but with a special focus on poverty and academically challenged populations,” Smith said.

Arkansas currently has 26 open-enrollment charter school systems, which are taxpayer-supported by operated by nonprofits. Open-enrollment charter schools can draw students from across school districts. The state has about the same number of conversion charter schools, which are run by traditional school districts. Conversion schools can only draw students from within the district’s boundaries.

The center partnered with the Arkansas Department of Education on the grant, which is part of the federal Charter Schools Program State Entities Competition. The U.S. Department of Education is awarding about $77.8 million in the first year to eight organizations across the country.

The Little Rock-based center is a membership organization that offers technical support, resources and training to public schools with an emphasis on charter and rural schools.

“We’re excited,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of work to be done still yet, and we are in the preliminary stages of getting more information in and working with the U.S. Department of Education on process and procedures.”


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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