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LISA Academy to Open in Fayetteville

LISA Academy to Open in Fayetteville

This open-enrollment charter school system also operates campuses in Springdale and Rogers as well as a hybrid school in Little Rock. On Wednesday, the Education Board ratified an expansion plan which includes building three schools at South McGuire Street and West Van Ashe Street in Fayetteville.

Education Board members were curious as to how the Springdale campus would attract a diverse student body given its distant location from residential neighborhoods. Hasan Sazci, assistant superintendent for Springdale campus responded that a traffic study revealed it is within 20 minutes from multiple communities.

What is LISA Academy?

LISA Academy is a public charter school offering a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum with courses and exams from Advanced Placement (AP), leadership workshops, partnerships with colleges and universities and an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction. 

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Established in 2004 as two middle schools serving central Arkansas only; since 2023 the academy has expanded into Northwest Arkansas with campuses located at Springdale and Rogers-Bentonville with space for 500 K-12th graders on Horsebarn Road near Fayetteville.

The state Education Board will review a request by LISA Academy public charter school system to increase enrollment cap by 1,168 students over nine years. The charter authorizer panel recommended approval, with no public commentaries or representatives from nearby districts speaking out against it. The Education Board can accept or conduct its own review before reaching a decision.

LISA Academy was established in 2004 as Arkansas’s largest charter school system by number of campuses. Today it includes eleven campuses with 100% college acceptance rates for all of its students; furthermore it pioneered STEM education.

This tuition-free charter school serves students in grades K-12 with comprehensive academic instruction from certified teachers from Arkansas. Their student/teacher ratio stands at 200:1.

As well as offering an engaging curriculum, the school also provides its students with an immersive learning experience through projects focused on STEM subjects and teamwork and collaboration. 

A dedicated support staff is on hand to assist any issues students might face – making this school an excellent alternative to the traditional system for parents looking for an alternative approach to education. 

It has achieved outstanding academic results over its existence while its faculty are highly qualified; receiving numerous accolades such as being recognized by National Center for Educational Achievement as a Higher Performing School designation.

Who is LISA Academy?

LISA Academy is a public, open-enrollment charter school offering classes K-12. Their goal is to prepare their students for success in college and careers through science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused coursework and exams; students also take Advanced Placement exams; take part in leadership workshops; engage with professors from University of Central Arkansas (UALR), UALR at Monticello; as well as University of Arkansas at Monticello professors.

LISA Academy system schools are among several open-enrollment charter schools expanding in Northwest Arkansas, opening new campuses this fall in Springdale, Rogers and Fort Smith with space for 500 kindergarten through 12th grade students at each location.

Education Board members on Wednesday approved an amendment to Fayetteville Schools’ state charter that will enable elementary grades to start classes at three Fayetteville schools by 2023-24, followed by middle and high school grades between 2024-2025 and 2026-2027 respectively. 

This expansion comes shortly after earlier this month Education Board members approved raising Fayetteville schools’ maximum enrollment cap from 5,632 students to 6,800 over nine years.

Charter schools generally allow for greater classroom flexibility than regular public schools and are held accountable by a school board. Furthermore, these institutions are required to provide free and appropriate public education for all children within their jurisdiction – the Arkansas Department of Education oversees this performance while authorizing their operations.

Lisa Academy North students enjoy an enriched community atmosphere in addition to its rigorous academic program. There is an active parent association and student government. Furthermore, students participate in various interscholastic activities offered through 1A 5 North Conference competition such as volleyball, golf (boys/girls), tennis, soccer and boys’ and girls’ basketball – not forgetting hosting various student events throughout the year!

Why LISA Academy?

The founders of a college-prep school state that their motivation for opening it was driven by a desire to attract more minority and female students who are underrepresented in professional science fields, as well as ensure it wouldn’t hinder desegregation efforts in Little Rock School District, which features approximately equal percentages of blacks and whites.

Visit LISA Academy in west Little Rock and its 29 classrooms that resemble company offices with cubicle workspaces and glassed-in conference rooms will reveal its primary strength: diversity. LISA’s students come from all across Arkansas.

Most school board members and two of five principals are Turkish; two original founders were Turkish as well. Many teachers speak multiple languages, and over half of students identify as minorities.

Springdale’s third campus of the charter school system, expected to attract even more diverse students from across Arkansas, but has so far failed to do so due to various factors – possibly including an inadequate supply of black students in northwest Arkansas.

Location has a significant bearing on who enrolls at LISA Academy; because the school does not run school buses, parents must be able to transport their children there and back every day.

Fatih Bogrek has recently commented on how her school is working with a professional marketing agency to increase recruitment efforts in its surrounding area, specifically Farmington and south Fayetteville neighborhoods within 20 minutes of it.

Some parents have voiced complaints that the school’s structure, which segregates students based on math ability, disadvantages low-income and black kids. Caron Higgins, whose daughter attends this school and currently in seventh grade, notes her daughter is doing well academically and likely will remain until eighth grade; however she’s considering attending public high school next year for more extracurricular activities. 

It does however require students spend half a day working on projects while engaging in “maker space” activities like using computers, 3D printers laser cutters and drones to teach coding skills and help develop critical thinking skills.

What is LISA Academy’s mission?

LISA Academy strives to offer an exceptional college preparatory education. Utilizing an effective, student-centric curriculum and providing learning opportunities outside the classroom, students at LISA are encouraged to discover their interests and become leaders within their community.

Its distinctive college preparatory curriculum includes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Furthermore, one of only a few schools in Arkansas to have a robotics team. Students participate in Arkansas Activities Association 1A 5 North Conference competitions such as volleyball, golf (boys/girls), basketball tennis and soccer – among others – while at their own school, thousands attend its annual Arkansas STEM Festival held each spring to witness STEM projects at work!

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As well as offering an academic program, this school also provides various enrichment programs, such as Innovation Learning’s before and after-school program and summer school sessions. They also partner with Discovery Education – a global edtech leader providing an innovative digital platform for student learning.

Parents looking for an innovative education option may find their search ends here with its student-centric curriculum and extracurricular offerings, including partnerships with universities and businesses in the local community allowing the school to offer career and scholarship opportunities for its students.

LISA Academy is Arkansas’s largest public charter school system by campuses. Boasting six locations throughout central Arkansas – including one in West Little Rock – as well as an online campus serving approximately 5,000 students during pandemic, providing virtual instruction with rigorous curriculum similar to its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

The Hybrid School model is intended to allow families access to a LISA Academy education from any location without needing to travel directly to a school campus. Instead, LISA Academy charter school will rent space at various community centers, churches or libraries and host hands-on projects, clubs and testing.