State panel denies resubmission of Redfield charter school application

The Arkansas Department of Education Charter Authorization Panel voted 3-2 Thursday at the ADE Building in Little Rock to deny a resubmission of an application to open the proposed Tri-County Charter School in Redfield.

Amanda Kight, secretary of the Redfield Tri-County Charter School Organization, said after the meeting that the group will be appealing Monday, Dec. 16, to the Arkansas Board of Education, which can uphold or overturn the panel’s decision.

Kight said that if the panel’s action is upheld, the proposed charter school likely will not open for the 2014-15 school year.

“I was a little disappointed but not surprised,” Kight said of the panel’s Thursday vote. Kight was accompanied at the meeting by several charter school supporters, including a pair of Redfield City Council members.

An initial application was unanimously rejected by the charter panel on Nov. 14. That denial, ADE spokesman Kim Friedman said, was based on financial and curriculum issues. The panel encouraged RTCSO representatives to reapply after addressing the matters in question.

The proposed charter school —which expects to gain students from Jefferson, Grant and Pulaski counties — is currently aimed at serving grades 5-8 with an anticipated initial student enrollment of 175. An upward class would be added annually through the 12th grade.

The charter school push followed a White Hall School Board vote in January to close the district’s Redfield Middle School at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. White Hall Middle School will be receiving Redfield’s future middle school students.

The Redfield City Council voted in February to petition the school board to deed Redfield Middle School to a non-profit group that would utilize the facility as a charter school. The school board has so far declined to make such a donation.