Charter Program At R.E. Baker Elementary Denied

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Bentonville School Board members met Thursday to discuss the possibility of restructuring a local elementary school into a charter school. School Board members deliberated the possibility of changing the curriculum of R.E. Baker from a traditional school, to a school focusing on science and technology. That possibility was dealt a blow tonight after failing to pass, 3 votes to 3.
“So many jobs now are technology based,” said Judy Marquess, Director of Instruction at Bentonville Schools. “They are very much project based, and that's the type of environment we want to give kids.”

Bentonville Schools contemplated the idea of making R.E. Baker Elementary into a charter school. "It's a game changer for those types of kids who don't learn as well in the traditional model" Marguess said.

The program was heavily favored by administrators, as it promoted project working.

The school district added an “A” to the acronym STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

"We added that ‘A’ in there for arts. That’s a component of this" said Michael Poore, Superintendent of Bentonville Schools.

School administrators think it would help promote team work for students future jobs.

"Go work together, collaborate, determine how to best deliver project based learning," Poore said.

While many were excited for the possible change, others were skeptical on the idea.

"{It is a] great idea. I’m concerned about the fact that it would displace a lot of kids from their schools,” said Grant Lightle, a district board member. “There will be some impacts to families as far as having to change schools. That’s a drastic change that wouldn't be their choice.”

The skeptics say the program doesn't fit everyone.

"It’s a program that's really designed to be a very nontraditional learning environment. Which, it's right for some kids, not right for everyone,” Lightle said.

However, school administrators say that this initiative is something they really want to see implemented down the road.

"It will be fantastic in terms of kids being prepared, more excited about science and math,” Poore said.

The proposed program was voted on Thursday, where the board voted a split decision.

In Bentonville Schools, a tie means that they will not go forward with the plan right now. Even though the vote failed tonight, the school board could still bring up the issue in the future, after it has gained more support.

1 Comment

  • Vanessa Jacky Davis

    As a parent, I’m terribly disappointed. I was one of the faces standing in the administration building so crowded with other parents that our shoulders were touching to show our support for this opportunity for our children. Schools are not for teachers, they are not for administrators, they are for kids. My Kindergarten son, who loves to invent and use his mind to create was going to attend a dream-come-true school to celebrate and feed his potential. And he’s just like every other kid. We know RE Baker well. We’ve had a family member who was a principal of RE Baker, friends who are teachers, cousins who were students, and we were all excited because RE Baker would still be wonderful. It was the chosen location because it’s downtown, so it would reach different income levels and kids could easily walk to a lot of different locations for field trips. Simple. Smart.
    I moved from Fayetteville to Bentonville 7 years ago reluctantly. And today I am immensely proud of how my town Bentonville has grown and met the needs and desires of it’s population. I was so certain, the STEAM program was going to be another exciting example of the leaps Bentonville is making to maintain our smart and exciting growth. I sincerely hope there is a way to have a revote, as all the board members were not present. I seems as if there is more work to do, more ideas to work out, and there is still a month left from the deadline.
    Please reconsider.

    Sincerely, 1 of the 90% of parents who support this change
    Vanessa Jacky-Davis

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