As reported by Mark Niesse at the AJC,
Superintendent Erroll Davis is recommending that the city school board deny a petition to open Atlanta Classical Academy. [It] needs to address concerns about its facilities … Sutton Middle School doesn’t have enough room to share space, and modular units don’t serve students’ long-term needs. … The 500-student, K-8 school hasn’t identified a principal.
Additional detail and the full text of Davis’ recommendation is at the article written by Dave Whisenhunt at the Reporter Newspapers.
In a lengthy response to Superintendent Davis, Matthew Kirby – ACA’s launch chairman – laid out a long list of the positive impact ACA would have on the community and why Davis’ objections should be overridden by the Board of Education. (See Mr. Kirby’s full letter at the link)
Some of the positive issues identified by Mr. Kirby are as follows:
- The efficacy of classical education,
- The strength of our leadership team,
- The strength of our HR/staffing plan,
- The reasonableness of our budget,
- Our ability to attract teachers suitable to teach in the classical environment,
- Our commitment to … enroll a diverse student body,
- We have … community support.
In his letter to supporters, Mr. Kirby indicated that the ACA plan had been revised and that it would open with a K-8 student body versus a K-10 as originally planned. However, the plan would be to grow to the 12th grade as students advance.
As noted above, Davis indicated that one of his reasons for opposing the petition was that a Principal was not yet in place. However, Mr. Kirby notes that 16-18 candidates being considered and that no candidate can commit to taking the position until the petition is approved. He also notes that APS has provisionally approved charter petitions in the past subject to the hiring of a qualified Principal.
Davis also indicated concerns regarding the use of sharing Sutton Middle School as the preliminary site for ACA. However, Mr. Kirby presents a strong case that Sutton is a very workable solution for the short-term for both APS and ACA.
Currently, Sutton has a 700 seat unused capacity and ACA needs only 486-540 seats in the first two years – 700 at maximum enrollment. Sharing the facility would help APS defray the operating expenses of the building. Further, the rent that would otherwise be paid to a landlord for a separate site would instead be infused into teachers and upgrading the public facility. Additionally, Mr. Kirby notes that this would be a short-term solution and ACA would continue pursuing a separate campus in the future.
Note – In a subsequent post I will provide my opinions and additional thoughts on why the ACA petition should be unanimously approved by the Board of Education.