Future School of Fort Smith founder steps away from superintendent role to launch new foundation

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 2,040 views 

Future School of Fort Smith founder Trish Flanagan has launched the Think Future Foundation. The new organization’s stated purpose is to “grow Future School’s early success at bringing new learning approaches to Fort Smith and the region.”

According to the press release, Flanagan and community partners and investors will work “to create tools and secure funding to sustain and grow the school’s mission.”

“We see an opportunity to achieve financial sustainability more expeditiously and expand our mission to create access for all students via a strategic foundation,” Flanagan said in the press release.

In a previous interview, Flanagan told Talk Business & Politics of the unique challenges funding Future School, explaining, “We only get state funds in terms of public dollars. There are some federal funds we can get, but that’s based on certain populations of students. The bulk of our funding comes from the state, which is about $7,000 per student every year. We don’t receive any millage, or local property tax money directly, and we don’t receive facilities help from the state. We are on our own for all of that.”

In July 2017, the school secured a $600,000 matching grant from the Siloam Springs-based Windgate Foundation.

Moving forward, Future School’s principal Boyd Logan will step up to serve as the new Future School Superintendent, while the nurse and community outreach coordinator Allison Montiel will be principal-in-residence. Patrick Boze has joined the staff as development director.

Faculty and facilities at Future School have grown as well. The school recently added four teachers/advisors, including Dr. Patrick Belk, Christie Larry, Lindsey Swanigan, and Bud Hamley. Additionally, Future School’s 74-year-old building at 622 N. 7th St., is adding four classrooms and a commercial kitchen that will be ready for the first day of school on Aug. 15.

In two years, the school has grown enrollment 100%, added more than 100 businesses to its internship program, and earned a B on the 2016-2017 state report card released each year by the Arkansas Board of Education. The grade is based on a variety of factors including test performance, teacher qualification, student retention, and discipline, and it covers the school’s inaugural year of operation only.

Founded in 2016, Future School of Fort Smith is a tuition-free public charter high school centered on personalized learning through student-designed internships, learning plans, and a dedicated advising team for each student. It serves students from grades 10-12. In the 2018-2019 school year, it will graduate its first class of seniors.

Enrollment for year one was 62 with an average class size of seven. The student-to-teacher ratio was 3:1, and per-pupil expenditures were $13,555 at the district level and $9,807 at state. While publicly funded, Future School is a charter that operates independently from the Fort Smith Public School (FSPS) district.