The school of goodwill will open new campuses

The Excel Center, a charter high school in Little Rock for students 19 and older who have not graduated, received approval from the State Board of Education on Friday to establish campuses in Springdale, Jonesboro and Fort Smith.

The Board of Education approved the expansion plan for the Excel center sponsored by Goodwill Industries at a meeting, in which it also continued to work on school systems applications to harness digital learning for students. distance learners in the coming school year 2021-22.

State Education Board approval of the Excel Center plan includes increasing the enrollment cap of the current 350 students for grades 9 through 12 to 1,050 students statewide to accommodate up to three new campuses at addresses not yet identified.

The existing Excel Center at 7400 Scott Hamilton Drive in Little Rock is one of 31 Goodwill Industries Adult High Schools nationwide, but it is the only Arkansas campus and the only campus in the network that does not receive funding from the ‘State.

The Arkansas Charter School opened in 2017-18 to provide adults 19 and older with a way to graduate from high school and earn industry certificates for jobs. such as forklift operators, welders and pharmacy technicians.

The school offers in-person classroom instruction in core academic subjects, program officials said on Friday. Other features of the tuition-free school are the traditional and flexible class hours for its students, free on-site childcare for students with children, and city bus passes to facilitate ease of use. student access to the center.

In addition, a life coach is responsible for helping each student overcome obstacles that prevented them from graduating early, locate old transcripts, and set life goals. The school’s faculty includes a bilingual educator and a special education provider.

The Little Rock School’s operating cost of $ 8.5 million comes almost entirely from the sale of items donated to representatives from Goodwill, Goodwill and Excel, said Friday.

Those responsible for the school plan are Brian Marsh, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, Greg Wertenberger, school director of Excel Center, and Markous Jewett, vice president of missionary services.

In response to questions from the board, Education Secretary Johnny Key said the Excel program was legally not eligible for traditional state funding for kindergarten through grade 12 or General education development programs that offer high school equivalency certificates.

“The consensus of this council is that we will do all we can to help you,” education council chairwoman Ouida Newton de Leola told planners of the school’s expansion.


Also on Friday, the board approved digital learning plans – and exemptions from state rules and laws – for five open enrollment school systems and 10 traditional school systems.

They are part of a total of 152 of the state’s 262 traditional school districts and open-enrollment charter school systems to submit digital learning applications to the state after school systems rush this school year. to offer online education options as a way to fight the spread of the contagious and potentially fatal covid-19 virus.

Education council members asked about the education plans of districts that have not applied for digital learning academies in the event of a covid outbreak on their campuses or in classrooms this year to come up.

Districts can use their state-approved alternative teaching methods days for days they need to switch to online education for up to 10 days, according to the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Division. . The division said it was continuing to work on plans for cases where schools might need to provide online education for more than 10 days.


Distance learning plans were approved on Friday for the following open enrollment charter schools: eStem Public Charter School, Graduate Arkansas, LISA Academy, Friendship Aspire Academy-Little Rock, and Friendship Aspire Academy Southeast-Pine Bluff.

Digital learning plans have been approved for the following districts: Augusta, Mountain Pine, Ozark Mountain, Shirley, Marked Tree, Nettleton, Melbourne, Watson Chapel, Pine Bluff and South Side Van Buren.

By Friday, the Board of Education had approved around 100 plans and will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday to review other plans.

School districts offer the digital learning method in a variety of ways for families who choose to have their students educated outside of a standard classroom.

Some districts offer their own courses to be taught by their own faculty, which in some cases will teach students in person and online simultaneously.

Other districts rely on programs and teachers from education providers such as Edgenuity or Pearson, or the long-standing organization Virtual Arkansas that provides courses.

Yet other school systems have arranged for their public education service cooperatives to provide education.

In January, the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Board of Education invited school districts to submit virtual education plans for the upcoming school year.

With that invitation came the offer of exemptions from state rules and laws that limit maximum class size to a maximum of 30 students, limit teachers’ workload to a maximum of 150 students, require 120 teaching hours per course and six-hour teaching days, set attendance requirements for students and require a minimum number of recess minutes.

Not all newly approved plans incorporate all exemptions.

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