On the Net
For more information about the International Charter School of Atlanta, visit www.icsatlanta.org.
It was standing room only Tuesday night during an informational meeting about a potential charter school.
Several founding board members of the International Charter School of Atlanta held a town hall gathering for the public at the Fowler Park Recreation Center.
About 200 parents interested in learning more about the potential new school attended the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.
The proposed charter school’s board, made up of about 10 local parents, will be applying to the Forsyth County Board of Education to receive charter school status. Their formal application must be received by April 1.
International Charter School representatives Tuesday told the audience that charter schools are tuition-free public schools that must abide by the same regulations, but are allowed more flexibility and are governed by their own independent boards.
If the proposed application is not approved by the local school board, the group could then apply to the recently formed Georgia Charter Schools Commission.
Charter schools must be found to provide a unique service that is not duplicated by the local educational system.
This would be just the second charter school application received in Forsyth County.
In 2008, Charter Schools USA applied to the local board but was denied for reasons ranging from unchallenging performance objectives to duplication of services provided by local schools.
Tina Crumbley, a board member for v International Charter School of Atlanta, said Tuesday that the proposed school, if approved, would be different from any other in the county as it would provide “language immersion.”
Students could choose different tracks, with English and two other languages. They would be taught every subject in the different languages on different days.
For example, those on the French-English-Spanish track would have four days of classes taught completely in French, followed by four days in English and then two days in Spanish.
The school would offer four different language tracks, focusing on Spanish, Mandarin, French and German. All students would be taught in English 40 percent of the time.
According to Crumbley, the purpose of the school is not to better the existing schools.
“[Charter schools] are not so much about, ‘Hey the district school is not doing what we want,’” she said. “Forsyth County is doing an awesome job. This is really a great school system. This is not about upping them.
“This is about allowing this community to have something different that is really needed.”
Students in the local public school system do not receive any foreign language courses until middle school, and no school provides foreign language immersion.
If approved, the proposed charter school would likely open in August 2014 for the 2014-15 school year, though leaders had previously said it would open this August.
Tuesday leaders said they realized that even if approved by the local school board, they would not have sufficient time to open for 2013-14.
Initially the school would serve about 300 students in grades kindergarten through eighth, although it could potentially expand to high school grades in the future.
While a site hasn’t been found, organizers said they are looking to potentially lease space near the Ga. 400 corridor in south Forsyth.
While the proposed school would be housed in Forsyth, the charter would allow it to admit students from Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb and Cherokee counties.
Representatives Tuesday encouraged the audience to go to their Web site at www.icsatlanta.org to learn more about the potential facility.
They asked any parents interested in sending their children there to fill out the “intent to apply” form on the site.
While the form would not guarantee admission if the charter school is approved, they said, information from it would help them as they prepare the application.