Opening of a Fort Smith campus by Fayetteville-based Haas Hall Academy received unanimous approval Feb. 15 from a state Charter Authorizing Panel. Final approval for the campus that will employ 14 teachers/administrators in its first year could come in March.
Haas Hall Founder and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martin Schoppmeyer, Jr., is asking the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) permission to open a Fort Smith location for grades 7-12 with an enrollment cap of 500 students. Schoppmeyer told Talk Business & Politics the school, if approved, would open in August 2023 with 350 students in grades 7-11. In the second year, the school could reach top enrollment of 500 students in grades 7-12. He said the start-up cost for the Fort Smith campus is estimated at $1.86 million.
Schoppmeyer said the school would initially hire 12 educators for the Fort Smith campus with salaries ranging between $48,000 and $52,000, depending on qualifications. The campus would also have an administrator and “director of academic affairs” to provide operations support.
If approved by the Arkansas Board of Education, the school would be located on the third floor of the former Golden Living building now owned by the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE). 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.
Schoppmeyer said part of the attraction with the ACHE building is having such immediate access to the wide range of medical, wellness and food/culinary arts research underway or being planned by ACHE.
“I thought it would be a great spot for a school. There is a lot of activity going on there, a lot of research that we can tie in to. … We’re excited about the opportunity to do some higher level things with our students,” Schoppmeyer said.
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.