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Parents pitch charter school for languages

Town hall talk set for Tuesday

POSTED: February 25, 2013 12:32 a.m.

A group hoping to launch a multi-language charter school in Forsyth County is holding a town hall meeting Tuesday night at Fowler Park.

Board members of the International Charter School of Atlanta will talk about plans for opening the school for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

“We want to be as transparent as possible and address everybody’s thoughts and concerns and get feedback from the community,” said Marisa Kashapov, chairwoman of the school’s founding board of directors.

The idea for the school came from a group of about 10 local parents, including Kashapov, who wanted more language opportunities.

“We feel our parents come from diverse backgrounds and we feel strongly for our children to have a competitive advantage in the future, we need to find the curriculum and the school that’s appropriate,” she said. “There isn’t a public school that’s currently offering this type of model.”

While French, Spanish, German, Latin and Russian are available to Forsyth’s high school students, only Spanish is offered in middle school.

Language has not been offered in elementary schools since 2010, when the school board cut the program to offset budget shortfalls.

If approved, the International Charter School of Atlanta would offer language immersion instruction based on the state’s common core standards in Spanish, Mandarin, French, German and English.

Kashapov said capacity would likely be about 300 students. While a location hasn’t been pinned down, they’re looking for close access to Ga. 400 in south Forsyth.

The plan also is to serve students in surrounding counties, including Fulton and Cherokee, Kashapov said.

But first, the school will need the approval of the Forsyth County Board of Education.

Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans said the system received the letter of intent to apply a few weeks ago. The school group must submit a formal application by April.

This is not the first time the local school district has been asked about a charter program.

Charter Schools USA applied in 2008, but was denied for reasons that ranged from unchallenging performance objectives to duplication of services handled through established schools.

However, there’s been one major change since then. Georgia voters approved an amendment in November allowing for a charter schools commission to consider applications of charter school requests that local boards deny.

Kashapov said she’s following the process starting at the local level, where she said she’s hopeful to receive approval. But if not, organizers will “figure out what our next steps are.”

“The charter commission just got together,” she said. “They’re ironing out how they’re going to handle things, so we just have to go along with the process.”

The plan is to open the school in August, Kashapov said, though that’s not finalized. “Whether it’s in August or a year from now, we’re going to be ready.”


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