The charter authorizing panel at the Arkansas Department of Education this afternoon approved by a 7-1 vote the expansion of LISA Academy, a charter operator in West Little Rock.
LISA’s enrollment is currently capped at 1,500 students; the panel today approved an amendment to the school’s charter that would increase the cap to 2,100. LISA hopes to add a new elementary (K-6) campus in West Little Rock near the intersection of Chenal Parkway and Bowman Road.
The Little Rock School District has voiced opposition to the expansion of LISA Academy and that of another Little Rock charter operator, eStem Public Charter Schools, saying that the growth of charters will harm the district at a time when the state is trying to turn around certain troubled schools in the LRSD. Together, the proposed LISA and eStem expansions will add almost 3,000 new seats, meaning the district may lose a significant number of students to the charter operators (the LRSD serves around 25,000 students).
As with an earlier vote today approving eStem’s expansion proposal, the lone “no” vote on the charter panel was Assistant Commissioner Annette Barnes.
The state Board of Education will have the final say on both charter schools’ proposed expansions, perhaps as soon as the board’s next meeting on March 10.