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2nd Bulloch charter school gains STEAM

If approved, new Boro academy would focus on science, technology, arts

2nd Bulloch charter school gains STEAM

2nd Bulloch charter school gains STEAM


An effort is underway to establish a second public charter school in Bulloch County.
Administrators with Statesboro’s Charter Conservatory, a charter school serving middle and high school students, plan to petition the state for creation of a new school — one that would provide an alternative option for elementary school parents and teachers.
Corliss Reese, the director of Charter Conservatory, said he hopes to present a completed plan for what would be the Statesboro STEAM College and Career Ready Academy to Georgia’s State Charter Schools Commission early next year.
“We will submit a full petition to the commission in its next cycle,” Reese said. “We are looking at a target date of August 2015 to open the school. We have already completed work on the curriculum, and established operations details. The last thing we are working on now is: getting the idea out to the community, letting them know that an option is coming, so we can hear feedback and determine the level of interest.”
The Statesboro STEAM College and Career Ready Academy is designed to serve kindergarten through fifth-grade students and would place emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, with an arts infusion, accounting for the “A” in the STEAM acronym, according to Reese.
“Our program will be very close to the Georgia curriculum, but we will use the STEM-base for our approach to teaching that curriculum. It is something a little different than what you would see in a typical elementary school when it comes to college and career readiness,” he said. “We will use science, technology, engineering, arts and math to do the curriculum, with a focus on science and math. With the advent of the information age and new technologies, the job market, in the future, is going to be geared more towards students that are ready for science, math, and technology-heavy jobs. So, we want to start preparing them.”
The school would be guided by a seven-member board of directors and school director.
Pending approval, Benji Lewis, the student services director and volunteer coordinator for Charter Conservatory, will take the reigns of the new academy.
“We are very excited. This school is about giving the students in this area a different choice, and getting them excited about learning at a very early age, and keeping them excited as they move through the ranks,” Lewis said. “There is a high demand for this kind of option.”
A website — www.statesborosteam.ning.com — has been created for the school, to provide information for interested parents and encourage feedback.
Sample curriculums for each grade level and school missions have been posted to the page.
Reese said it is still undetermined whether the school would apply to serve a designated attendance zone (Bulloch County) or open for all students in the state. Petitioners are also still working to find a location for the school, he said.
In order to be approved as a public charter, the school must garner approval from the Bulloch County Board of Education or the recently resurrected State Charter Schools Commission — Georgia voters said yes to Amendment 1 last year, which gave the state power to approve charter schools and establish a commission to consider applications for them.
Reese petitioned the commission in its last cycle to establish the school (a vote will be taken on Oct. 20) but was encouraged to receive additional public feedback and do more to demonstrate need within the community, he said.
“They would like to see us address those needs to prove this an approvable and a high-quality charter,” Reese said.
The Bulloch County school board is familiar with the proposed new charter school. It first voted against considering the charter application on June 28, 2012, before Amendment 1 was passed.
Since then, the board received a letter of intent from Reese for the STEAM academy to open along with the petition submitted to the Charter Schools Commission and description of the school’s program. Also in January, the State Board of Education approved a $25,000 charter planning grant for the school, said Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County school system’s public relations and marketing specialist.
In addition to creating space on the STEAM website for interaction with the public, petitioners plan to host a forum or town hall-style meeting next month to hear from people — though no date is currently set.
“We want to give everyone an idea of what is coming and allow time for people to come to us and ask questions, to see if it may be a good fit for their child,” Reese said. “I feel like this is a need in our community. I think the response in the November election shows that people in Bulloch County obviously feel there is a need for nontraditional education options for parents and students.”
If approved by the state commission, STEAM academy would, like all Georgia public schools, received funding through state tax dollars.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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