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Friday, May 23, 2014

Quest charter school goes back to Rahling Road site

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 7:04 AM

click to enlarge BACK TO RAHLING: This shell commercial building will become the site of a new charter middle school after all.
  • BACK TO RAHLING: This shell commercial building will become the site of a new charter middle school after all.
The Quest charter middle school, set back recently on a new location, will return to the originally approved site on Rahling Road in Chenal Valley.

The school announced on its Facebook page yesterday that the Rahling Road site was back in play and should be ready for school opening in August. The state Education Department signed off on the change, because financial arrangements are virtually identical to those that existed when the state Board of Education approved the new charter school earlier.

Organizers, it turned out, were dickering on a new cheaper location at the time the state Board approved the Rahling Road site. A departmental panel later approved the new site on Harding Road, but the state Board of Education did not. There were complaints about traffic and the school never received approval from the city for use of the property for a school. The state Board also expressed unhappiness with the truthfulness of representations made about the change in location by officials of Responsive Education Solutions, the Texas-based school management company that will run Quest. It is involved in six other charter school operations in Arkansas.

Some 180 students have signed up to attend the 6-8 grade school. I reported here where those students now live and attend school. According to school data, 98 live in the Little Rock School District and 76 currently attend Little Rock schools. 64 students live in the Pulaski County School District.

I have a question in to Responsive Ed about plans for the Harding Road building that was purchased for the school and has now been abandoned as a school location. Responsive Ed has a $3.3 million mortgage on the building, which is partially occupied by other tenants. The company had told state education officials it wouldn't be purchased until state and city approval had been received. On the basis of the mortgage, it would appear to be an obligation of the Texas corporation, not Quest.

All's well that ends well, I guess. I note in the Democrat-Gazette account that Jody Carreiro of the Little Rock School Board said simply that the district would continue to move ahead with its effort to build a middle school in that part of town. It had opposed the school as a siphon of students, particularly from more economically advantaged families. Responsive Ed doesn't yet have information on race, economic circumstances and current academic performance of the students it has signed up.

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