MARIETTA - The Marietta City School Board is considering allowing for a new charter school to be built on Franklin Road, opening in fall 2015.
The school would focus on language immersion, a much-needed program for many of the immigrant families in the area, said James Wilson, the mastermind of the project and founder of Education Planners LLC, a Marietta-based education consulting firm.
Many classes would be in both English and Spanish, and children who were native speakers of one language would develop a strong foundation in the other.
Wilson said his company has been pushing to get the new school built on Franklin Road for almost a year, as he sees it as an opportunity to develop a strong school in the culturally diverse area.
“This part of the city has a population that represents multiple languages,” Wilson said. “We believe this would be an excellent opportunity for young people.”
A tentative goal for the school would be to open in fall 2015 as a kindergarten through 5th grade school, and to eventually expand one grade per year until the school offered grades K-8, Wilson said.
The school would ideally be able to accommodate up to 100 students per grade, but Wilson says plans are to grow slowly, as needed.
Many of the details for the new school have yet to be worked out, and Wilson said he is taking each step of the process slowly in order to not make any mistakes.
He will be bringing a full application to the Marietta City School board within the next few weeks.
Marietta open to idea for new school
Families in the Franklin Road area of the city feed into Marietta City Schools, particularly Lockheed and Park Slope elementary schools, said Superintendent Emily Lembeck.
Both schools are operating at capacity, and not in the position to grow in population any time soon, Lembeck added.
Students who live in the Franklin Road area are bused into the city schools, making it hard to maintain a “neighborhood” sense of community for the commuting families, Lembeck said.
She is enthusiastic a charter school might provide a “neighborhood school” for the families who live along Franklin Road.
“I do think that a neighborhood school in the Franklin Road area would be beneficial to families that live down there,” Lembeck said. “It might help create a community.”
Once the charter school submits an application, Lembeck said the Marietta School Board would have to review the application and verify that the school’s proposed educational program offers a rigorous education for Marietta students, one which would prepare students for Marietta City middle and high schools.
If the Marietta School Board approves the application, it would remain fairly hands-off from the day-to-day functions of the new school. The charter school would have its own independent board of education, which would hire and fire its own teachers and administrators.
Once a year, Lembeck said, the charter school board would present an update on the charter students’ progress.
Marietta City Schools would also be responsible for doling out the required state, local and federal tax dollars allocated to each student at the new school.
The Marietta City School Board has already seen a charter school come and go, Lembeck said, when the Marietta Charter School closed in 2011.
Marietta Charter was run by Imagine Schools and was in business for about five years, but closed when the Marietta City School Board determined Marietta Charter was not keeping up with “instructional expectations,” Lembeck said.
Nevertheless, the MCS board is open to a new school.
Board members said they have received a letter of intent from the new school’s board of education and they will be discussing it at their rescheduled board meeting later this month, Board Chair Randy Weiner said.
“We are open-minded to hearing about it, the dual language program has merit in this area. It sounds very interesting and we are excited to take a look at it,” Weiner said.
The charter school’s board of education is made up of three people at the moment, and will expand as the school does, Wilson said. Board members include Stanley Wrinkle, former Cobb superintendent, and Mariettans Liz Cole and Megan Egan.
Wrinkle is excited for the potential of a new school in the Franklin Road area.
“The goal is to get a school that will be a unique dual-language instruction program. It will serve both non-English speaking, mostly Hispanic kids as well as English-speaking kids of all cultures,” Wrinkle said.