Haas Hall Academy, the prestigious Fayetteville-based college-prep charter school, is seeking approval from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) to open a Fort Smith campus in the fourth floor of the former Golden Living building now owned by the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE).
Founded in 2004, Haas Hall is widely known for its advanced curriculum focused on preparing students 7-12 for college. The charter school’s mission statement notes that the school works to “provide an aggressive alternative to the traditional learning environment for scholars with high intensity of purpose seeking an aggressive, rigorous, college preparatory curriculum focusing in the engineering, technology, mathematics and science fields, enabling them to succeed at the nation’s prestigious universities and to become pillars of their communities.”
The academy has locations in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale and is approved for combined enrollment of 2,000 students.
Haas Hall is on the Dec. 15 agenda for the ADE Charter Authorizing Panel for charter renewal. In the 82-page renewal request, Founder and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martin Schoppmeyer, Jr., also requested to open a Fort Smith location for grades 7-12 with an enrollment cap of 500 students.
“Haas Hall Academy is requesting a license to open an open-enrollment public charter school in Fort Smith within the boundaries of the Fort Smith School District. As an open-enrollment public charter school unconfined by district boundaries, Haas Hall Academy expects to obtain the majority of its students from within the boundaries of the Fort Smith, Greenwood, Van Buren, Alma and surrounding School Districts,” noted part of the request.
Kyle Parker, ACHE president and CEO, said ACHE will invest about $6 million to prep the fourth floor for Haas Hall. He said the space should be ready for classes to begin in the fall of 2023. The former Golden Living headquarters was acquired by ACHE in September 2020. The 318,000-square-foot building – now known as the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center – sits on just under 55 acres in the south part of Fort Smith.
“We are excited to welcome a school of Hass Hall’s caliber to the ACHE Research Institute Health & Wellness Center in Fort Smith. Haas Hall holds the numbers 1, 2, 3, & 4th highest academically ranked schools in Arkansas and is nationally recognized in the top 10 in the nation for its high academic achievements and their STEAM curriculum,” Parker noted in a statement to Talk Business & Politics. “As with Haas Hall, ACHE will continue its statewide integration to achieve academic excellence, health, and wellbeing in conjunction with our established kindergarten through twelfth grade educational pipeline programs, throughout our state and region.”
The expansion request has received letters of support from Fort Smith area officials, including Fort Smith Mayor George McGill, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, and Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tim Allen.
“I appreciate the opportunity for residents to have the choice of an academically rigorous public high school like Haas Hall Academy. This learning institution offers an accelerated math and science curriculum, which is critical in our increasing technological environment,” Mayor McGill noted in his letter of support.
If approved, Haas Hall would be the second charter school to open in the Fort Smith area in recent years. The Future School of Fort Smith opened its doors Aug. 22, 2016, in downtown Fort Smith as a tuition-free, public charter high school centered on a personalized approach to learning via student-designed internships, personalized learning plans, and an advisor for each student. Through May 2020, it served students in 10th through 12th grade. It graduated its first class of seniors in May 2019. The school recently opened a new $6 million, 18,000-square-feet building. The school now has 20 classrooms, 16 of which are new and two of which were renovated with the building project.