Cobb Preparatory Academy was one of 16 petitions submitted by applicants throughout the state. It was submitted by four of its seven board members, Smyrna residents Kimberly Cochran and Leo Smith, Smyrna City Councilwoman Melleny Pritchett and with J. Bernard Rice of Buckhead. The other three have not been named.
The deadline for applications was June 14, interviews will be conducted in mid-August and consideration for petition approvals are planned for Oct. 30.
The state commission, which was reformed in light of the Charter School Amendment’s approval in November 2012, has the power to authorize charter schools in Georgia.
Smith, a self-employed branding and marketing e consultant for private schools and longtime Smyrna resident who works with the Smyrna Education Foundation, said he’s been thinking about bringing a charter school to his community for about five years.
“I’m a big advocate for Smyrna’s progress and development,” he said. “And I want to make sure that we have as many schools as possible that know exactly how to prepare students for college or the workforce afterwards.”
He has advocated for charter schools in the past, but this is the first time he’s put his name on a petition.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “This is exactly what would be perfect for Smyrna and Cobb County.”
Smith said Pritchett became interested in the project while he was working with her in an advisory capacity for Ward I in the city.
“She is always thinking about how the city of Smyrna can meet the needs of families and businesses,” he said.
Pritchett was not available for comment about her support for the school.
Smith said that Rice, a Buckhead resident, is self-employed and a former executive with IBM.
“He does a number of business and educational projects around the nation,” he said. “We are excited that he sees the importance of public and private education.”
Cochran, who lives in Smyrna and works with KCMC Consulting LLC, was able to provide more details about the school and their 320-plus page petition, a process that began about a year ago.
“We are excited about bringing this high quality public charter school to Smyrna to complement our existing schools, while also serving the educational needs of our surrounding communities, unbound by zip code attendance zones,” she said.
Cochran said he is not ready to discuss the location of the school or whether the facility would be leased or purchased. But it will be located somewhere in Smyrna and will serve kindergarten through sixth-grade students, adding one grade level each year and eventually being home to a little more than 1,100 students.
The school will be open to any and all who apply and Cochran said that if there are more applicants than seats, the school will conduct a lottery, but details as to how that will be done are not yet available.
No website is yet available and organizers are still working on how families will sign up their students.
She said they petitioned the state commission instead of the Cobb County School District first, which is typically required if a school will only serve students in that county, because a statewide attendance zone is a great opportunity for frustrated parents whose children attend schools in their hometowns while they are still working in Cobb.
“Students should not be prevented from receiving a quality education based on their zip code,” Cochran said. “Not all Georgia communities have high performing public schools and/or public charter school options.
“In the communities that have established charter schools, demand is higher than spaces are available. By opening (the school’s) attendance zone we are providing our local community, and the 125,000-plus Georgians that commute into Cobb County every day, access to a high quality education for their children that they may not otherwise have access to; unbound by zip code attendance rules.”
The Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, which is affiliated with Charter Schools USA, will be the charter holder for Cobb Preparatory Academy. The foundation is also the holder for the charters of Cherokee Charter Academy and Coweta Charter Academy.
For more information on the foundation, visit georgia