Arkansas properties listed for potential charter school use
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials have identified more than 200 buildings and pieces of property owned by over 75 school districts as potentially available for charter school use.
The Arkansas Division for Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation posted the list of vacant and underused properties online Wednesday. The state had until March 1 to post the list as required by a law passed last year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
The law clarifies and expands charter schools’ rights of access and first refusal to purchase or lease unused or partially used facilities owned by traditional school districts, including the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special districts.
The list comes at a time when Arkansas is scattered with vacant and underused school buildings resulting from years of school consolidations, as well as a school construction boom started by the state’s partnership program for assisting districts with construction costs.
Charter school systems can have up to two years to claim access once a school building is designated by the state as unused or underused, according to the law, which also requires charters to purchase or lease any desired property from the district at fair market value.
School districts that object to the state classification of their properties as vacant or underused are allowed to appeal the decision, said Brad Montgomery, director of the division.
“There is a process that if a facility appears on the division’s list, the district can petition the division for a waiver by providing a letter in which they say they don’t believe a charter would be interested in the facility,” Montgomery said.
The division would then produce a letter to the charter schools within five days, he said. Charters have 30 days to file an objection stating they intend to inform the district of their intent to lease or purchase the facility.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com