New charter school expects to open in former Lane Hotel in Rogers for 2024-25 school year, official says

Official: School to be in Rogers instead of Bentonville after Lane opening 

by Al Gaspeny

Joi Knight (left), director of development with Haas Hall Academy, and Stacy Keenan, director of development, walk up the south steps Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at the new Haas Hall Academy Rogers Campus in Rogers.
Joi Knight (left), director of development with Haas Hall Academy, and Stacy Keenan, director of development, walk up the south steps Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at the former Haas Hall Academy Rogers Campus, the future site of School for Advanced Studies Northwest Arkansas in Rogers.(NWA Democrat-Gazette/FILE PHOTO) 


ROGERS — One open-enrollment charter school plans to replace another later this year at the former Lane Hotel location downtown.

School for Advanced Studies Northwest Arkansas plans to open its first state campus this fall at the Lane. Organization officials said they hope the school takes root and branches out. When the state approved the tuition-free public charter school last year, it was to be in Bentonville and called the Bentonville School for Advanced Studies. 

But a school location wasn’t chosen at the time of approval and remained an open-ended situation, said Peter Bezanson, BASIS Educational Ventures chief executive officer. He added the organization applied to come to Northwest Arkansas a year earlier than intended. 

The search for a campus site changed when Haas Hall Academy Rogers, a charter school for grades 7-12, announced in November it would leave the historic Lane building for a spot near Interstate 49 at the end of the 2023-24 school year, Bezanson said. Haas Hall has occupied the Lane since 2017. 

“The key factor was the availability of the facility,” Bezanson said via Zoom on Friday of moving the campus from Bentonville to Rogers. “We love the facility. We love the neighborhood.” 

That the Lane is already set to house a school didn’t hurt either. 

After learning of Haas Hall’s move, Raymond Burns, president and CEO of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, noted the economic benefits Haas Hall brought to downtown businesses. Now a new school is on the way. 

“Schools bring not only students but their families,” Burns said. “So, yes, it will have a big impact, depending on the population of the school. Downtown is on a very positive roll right now, and having everything occupied and functional is critical to keeping momentum going. Downtown’s best days are yet to come, and it’s pretty darn good right now.” 

DeAnna Rowe, executive director of Arkansas Schools for Advanced Studies, said the school name will be changed to the School for Advanced Studies Northwest Arkansas.

“We welcome the Rogers community and hope they find us appealing and attractive,” Rowe said Friday. “Rogers is our home, but Northwest Arkansas is really the demographic collectively that we intend to serve.” 

The previously approved application for the school remains in place, and an amendment will be submitted to the state for the new name, Rowe said. 

Bezanson said there’s been talk of eventually having three schools in Arkansas, with the first in the Bentonville-Rogers area and the second in the Bentonville-Rogers or Fayetteville areas. Arkansas Schools for Advanced Studies would also like a Little Rock presence, Bezanson said. “It certainly depends on how things go here,” he said of adding more schools. “But we’re bullish on how things are going to go here.” 

His organization has opened a combined total of 42 public charter high schools in Arizona, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, D.C., Bezanson said. 

Arkansas Schools for Advanced Studies is the nonprofit sponsoring entity for the Rogers campus, Rowe said. The plan for the liberal arts school is to open this fall for the 2024-25 year serving grades 5-9 and add a grade level each year to be serving grades 5-12 by 2027-28, Rowe said.

The school plan is built on “civil discourse, seminar-style discussion classes and engagement in authentic creative processes across disciplines — all guided by passionate teachers with deep content knowledge and broad interests,” according to the planners’ charter application. 

Bezanson said the school has three core pillars: 

  • An advanced curriculum with supports for students 
  • Socratic, seminar-based discussion 
  • The opportunity for a high school student to choose a major, with options to concentrate on the fine arts, humanities or math and science 

The school brings a new educational model to a new market, and it’ll take time to generate name recognition, Bezanson said. So the school is hosting informational meetings for the public. The next is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Bentonville Community Center, he said.

Open enrollment is underway for the 2024-25 school year. 

The school has a three-year lease at the Lane but is open to the building being a long-term solution as well, Bezanson said, and there’s a purchase option. 

The Lane building was constructed in 1929. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. KLS Leasing of Delaware, a company affiliated with the Walton Family Foundation, bought the building for $1.6 million in 2015 and paid to renovate it, a foundation spokesman told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2017. 

Haas Hall — which also operates campuses in Bentonville, Springdale, Fayetteville and Fort Smith — reported an enrollment of 256 students in grades 7-12 at the Rogers campus as of Oct. 1. 

Haas Hall Rogers is moving to The Peaks development in Rogers — in particular, the space once occupied by John Brown University, Haas Hall Superintendent Martin Schoppmeyer has said. Headmaster Bethany Culpepper gave the specific location of the planned new campus as 2807 W. Ajax Ave., about a mile south of Pinnacle Hills Promenade. 

The area encompassed by the Rogers School District is already home to four open-enrollment charter schools: Haas Hall, Arkansas Arts Academy, LISA Academy and Founders Classical Academy. Garfield Scholars’ Academy, which plans to host up to 340 students in grades kindergarten through eight, is yet another charter school the state has approved to open within the Rogers School District this fall. 

Interested in learning more about the School for Advanced Studies Northwest Arkansas? See the full event calendar with upcoming prospective parent info sessions to learn more and join the interest list.

School for Advanced Studies Northwest Arkansas 

What: Informational meeting for the tuition-free public charter school 

When: 6 p.m. Jan. 18 

Where: Bentonville Community Center: 1101 Southwest Citizens Circle, Bentonville, AR 72712