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CCAT gets new 5-year charter
School also to soon have new name
W CharterConservatory

Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology, or CCAT, was unanimously awarded a new, five-year charter contract Wednesday by the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia.

Under the renewed charter, effective July 1, the school will do business under a new name, Statesboro STEAM College, Careers, Arts and Technology Academy.

“We’re very excited about having a five-year renewal,” said CCAT Director Corliss Reese. “It is a big deal for us. We’re looking forward to enhancing our educational program – as you know, we’re changing the approach – and we’re looking to do some great things this coming school year and going forward.”

Class of 2016 members will still be Charter Conservatory graduates, but school leaders plan to have the conservatory signs removed and replaced with Statesboro STEAM signs this summer, he said.

The STEAM acronym, for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, is meant to reflect a new focus, with art, science and math incorporated into the teaching of all other subjects.

But Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology will remain the name of the nonprofit organization that operates the school, Reese said.

“That will always be the nonprofit name, so we’ll just be doing business as the Statesboro STEAM CCAT Academy,” he said.

Founded in 2002, CCAT, on Northside Drive, now has 160 students in grades 6-12, although it once included elementary school. This will be the first time the school has held a five-year charter from the current State Charter Schools Commission. After the commission was recreated under a fall 2012 state constitutional amendment, it granted CCAT only a three-year charter in spring 2013, time enough, the commission said, to show improvement after changes in governance.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the commission commended the school for its work on improving student achievement and for being an option for Bulloch County students, “and just encouraged us to continue the work we’ve done to increase the student growth, Reese said.

The state charter process exists for charter schools with statewide attendance zones and schools with local attendance zones that have been unable to obtain a local charter. CCAT has only a Bulloch County attendance area.

Beginning in January, Reese and CCAT Governing Board chair Dr. Tom Caiazzo wrote to the Bulloch County Board of Education seeking a county charter as the preferred option. Meeting last week, the county board neither granted nor denied a charter, but board members and Superintendent Charles Wilson said they would need more time to consider the implications and funding.

Through the recent discussions, the charter school, which receives its funding directly from the state, has opened doors in its relationship with the county school system, according to Reese. He did not rule out the possibility of switching to a county charter before the five years are up.

“We want to continue to have discussions about some partnerships that we could engage in together,” Reese said. “Hopefully, with the communication that’s taken place over the last few months, we are headed in such a good direction when it comes to being able to do some things together within this county.”

CCAT leaders also proposed adding kindergarten through fifth grade back to the school, but that is not a part of the approved state contract, Reese said. Adding more grades within the next five years would require a state-approved charter amendment, he said.

The State Charter Schools Commission posts approved charters on its website, http://scsc.georgia.gov. But the new CCAT contract is not there yet.

“We’re still negotiating the final terms of the charter. It should be available in a couple of weeks,” said Gregg Stevens, the commission’s deputy director and chief legal counsel.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

 

 

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