Arkansas board of education to consider state’s first ‘transformation contract’
The Arkansas Board of Education has called a special meeting for Friday to consider allowing the Marvell-Elaine School District to enter into a “transformation contract” with the Friendship Education Foundation.
If approved, the contract between the public school district and the charter management company would be the first of its kind under Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ signature LEARNS Act.
The new law makes several changes to the state’s education system, including creating a process through which public school districts with a “D” or “F”-rating or in need of Level 5 – Intensive Support can partner with an open-enrollment public charter school or another state board-approved entity in good standing to create “a public school district transformation campus.”
Marvell-Elaine has a Level 5 classification and both of its schools have an “F”-ranking. The district was also in fiscal distress from April 2019 to September 2021.
The board voted in April to allow Marvell-Elaine to pursue this new contract as an alternative to consolidation. The rural Phillips County district was at risk of a second consolidation due to low enrollment.
The Friendship Education Foundation, which manages the Friendship Aspire Academy schools in Arkansas, was one of three entities that expressed interest in pursuing a “transformation contract.” The other two applicants interviewed by state officials were Charter One, a charter school service provider based in Arizona, and Grassroots Arkansas, a Little Rock-based community organization.
Friday’s meeting begins at 2 p.m. and will take place in the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education’s auditorium in Little Rock. The meeting will be livestreamed here.