Tuesday, October 6, 2015

eStem to open new elementary/middle school in east Little Rock

Posted By on Tue, Oct 6, 2015 at 1:48 PM

click to enlarge estem.jpg
EStem Public Charter Schools is planning to open a new K-8 facility east of I-30 by the 2017-18 school year, eStem CEO John Bacon confirmed today.

It's not a big surprise the charter operator is expanding its K-8 capacity. In August, eStem announced that it would be moving its high school from downtown to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus, a major project that entails renovation of UALR's Larson Hall for grades 11 and 12 and construction of a new building for grades 9 and 10. Bacon said at the time it was likely eStem would build other "satellite campuses" that would feed into the newly enlarged high school.

EStem's board wants the school's enrollment (for all grades) to expand from the current 1,452 students to 5,000 by 2025. Moving the high school to UALR will allow the lower grades to expand into the vacated downtown space, but if the charter operator plans to ramp up its enrollment that sharply over the next decade, it will likely need even more room for K-8 in the years ahead.

The planned expansion site is near the Clinton Library and the Heifer International headquarters, Bacon told me today. That means the closest Little Rock School District elementary would be Carver Magnet Elementary.

As with the UALR project, eStem hopes to finance the K-8 capital project through the sale of bonds, but details on financing remain to be settled. Both the high school and the K-8 expansion will require approval from the state Charter Authorizing Panel and the state Board of Education.

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