06.13.11 State Bd. of Ed. Says 'No' to Expansion of Virtual Charter
The Arkansas Board of Education denied the Arkansas Virtual Academy's request to grow from 500 to 1,500 students.
The K-8 school is used by home-schooled students throughout the state.
Arkansas Virtual Academy is affiliated with K12 Inc. It receives the same level of per pupil as a traditional bricks-and-mortar Arkansas school.
Board members said they were concerned how the virtual school was spending state money. Dr. Ben Mays, raised questions on why the virtual school spent 15% of its funds on administration when traditional Arkansas schools spent about 5%.
He said financial documentation on numbers of teachers and salaries paid from the money the state provides was either missing or incomplete.
A number of parents with children in the program spoke in support of the school as did Rep. Justin Harris, who tried unsuccessfully to legislatively mandate an increase in the school's size.
But Board members weren't happy with the quality of the budget report and wanted to wait until an interim legislative study was completed before making a final decision.
01.25.11 State's Virt. Charter School Hit Enrollment Cap; 1,000 Students on Waiting List
Scott Sides, head of school for Little Rock-based Arkansas Virtual Academy, said there are 500 students in kindergarten through the eighth grade attending the school and 1,000 more on the waiting list.
Sides told firstarkansasnews.net he hopes online schooling does expand, adding that he is hopeful the Legislature will allow for more than 500 students to be enrolled in the Virtual Academy. He, however, refused to say when he thought that cap might be lifted. Sides added Also, he said the legislature will allow the school to expand past the eighth grade.
8.6.10 State Education Commissioner: Jan. 2011 next chance to lift enrollment cap
Dr. Tom Kimbell, Arkansas education commissioner, said the cap on virtual school enrollment will continue, at least through 2010.
In the interview published on the EdReformer.com blog, Kimbell said the first opportunity for Arkansas to consider lifting the cap will be in January 2011 when the state legislature starts its next session.
Read the complete interview here.
Arkansas has a state virtual school, the Arkansas Virtual High School (AVHS). The Arkansas Virtual High school opened its doors in 2000. It is funded through an annual grant that comes from the Arkansas Department of Education. That funding has remained steady since 2007.
Arkansas has a virtual charter school that offers courses statewide. It is called the Arkansas Virtual Academy.
The Arkansas Virtual Academy is a K-8 school that serves students throughout the state. Legislation limits its enrollment to 500 students. The Virtual Academy is its own school district and receives state funds just as if it was a bricks-and-mortar public school district.
In 2009, Act 1420 became law. It placed a cap on enrollment in virtual charter schools.
In 2011, the Arkansas Board of Eduction denied the Arkansas Virtual Academy's request to expand its enrollment from 500 to 1,500. Board members said they were concerned how the virtual school was spending state money.
The board said it would wait on an interim legislative study to be completed before revisiting the issue.