After a 30 day review period, the Ardmore City Schools Board of Education voted to reject the proposed charter school, Ardmore Community Academy, for the second and final time.
The board rejected the proposed charter school last month, citing concerns over the proposal, which they said didn’t adequately explain how the charter school would provide transportation for students, how they would meet disabled students’ needs and where the school will be housed, among other concerns. If approved, the charter school would start next year, with 50 pre-K and Kindergarten students for a total of 100.
“On October 2, the ACA submitted an amended application to the board of education for reconsideration of its rejection,” Superintendent Kim Holland said. “Since that time, the application has been thoroughly reviewed by the district and by outside legal counsel. All discussed deficiencies in the amended application which do not meet the legal requirements set forth by the Oklahoma Charter School Act.”
The meeting last night echoed all of those prior concerns. ACA head Brett Stidham said the charter school would meet students’ needs on a case-by-case basis, but the school board argued the proposal still didn’t explain its plan clearly enough.
ACA was represented by William Hickman, who explained the charter school’s position and answered board members’ questions before the decision was made.

“There are 182 signatures on letters of support for the academy, 26 pre-enrollment forms already filled out, 763 Facebook likes, support coming from business leaders, literacy and mental health leaders, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce leaders, the Boys and Girls Club, as well as county leaders,” Hickman said.

Hickman and Stidham both said that certain things, like a plan to provide meals for students, could only be finalized after the school board approved the charter, but would follow state requirements. Hickman also argued that because schools are not legally obligated to provide transportation, the charter school’s transportation plan didn’t invalidate the proposal.

“Our application says we will work with families and students as necessary and as they request,” Hickman said. “We would find public and private partnerships to provide them with transportation as we can.”

Board member Carey Baldwin asked if the school intended to focus on teaching Native American students. Hickman clarified that the school’s students would be decided by a lottery, and while the curriculum was designed to be inclusive, the school would not focus on serving one ethnic group.

The HFV Wilson Community Center, the venue ACA proposed using to house the charter school, served as another point of contention. The groups debated whether the center had shown sufficient support. Holland cited an email from assistant Parks and Recreation director Alicia Henry earlier this month, stating that the department didn’t want to allow the charter school to use the space. Stidham responded by saying the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had already agreed to allow use of the space.

Upon rejection by the ACS board, ACA can submit its application directly to the state board of education for approval, if its board chooses to.

“Our contention is that our application meets the state required fields, and it’s our goal to make sure we can best serve the students of our community,” Stidham said. “Our next step is to have a conversation as a board and to prepare for what comes next, whether that’s an appeal to the state board, we may go forward in that direction.”