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Marisa Kashapov addresses the crowd as one of the founding members for International Charter School of Atlanta. WILL HOUP. (click for larger version)
The audience had plenty of questions for the proposed charter school. Many of them were directed toward the curriculum about courses offered outside the mandatory three language classes. WILL HOUP. (click for larger version)
March 05, 2013CUMMING, Ga. — With more than 120 people in attendance, a newly proposed charter school outlined their plans to a Forsyth County audience who brought some concerns of their own to share.
A group of multi-lingual parents and educators comprise the founding board for the International Charter School of Atlanta. They want to provide a kindergarten through eighth-grade trilingual school in the South Forsyth area.
"I came in with a lot of doubts," said Kimbrooke Pablich, an attendee of the Feb. 26 informational meeting. "I thought they were trying to pull off something that was just not doable."
Before the meeting, ICSAtlanta had advertised the school opening by August 2013 on their website and on the pamphlets at the meeting.
However, they had not found a building and their petition has not yet been accepted or completed. ICSAtlanta announced at the meeting they will hold off their opening until the 2014-2015 school year.
Pablich has two children who are in a Spanish immersion program and have been since they were two-years old. She said that she can't put her children in public school because they'll lose their Spanish training. But she also said that she's not sold on a trilingual program.
"I think this is the perfect time for a charter school," Pablich said. "I think there's a lot more interest out there than represented in this room. People are pulling out of the public schools waiting for charter schools to open up."
At the meeting, there were about eight presentations ranging from debunking myths of charter schools and explaining the founding boards' vision to budget preparations and teacher qualifications.
ICSAtlanta plans to offer Spanish, French, Mandarin and German with each student taught English alongside two of the four offered languages. The teachers of each foreign language will be native speakers and are required to meet federal standards, according to ICSAtlanta personnel. But these teachers will not have to be certified in Georgia.
The petition's deadline is April 1.
The founding board has budgeted about $7,500 per student and plans to pay teachers the same as others in Georgia public schools.
"We have to run a charter school like a business," said Tara Aycock, a founding board member. "Charter schools are public schools and get their funding from state funding and local funding. There are also grants, and parent involvement is a big part of funding a charter school.
"Our goal is to pay all our teachers, instructors and administrators the same as anywhere else, but we'll see," she added. "That is the goal, but we'll have to see how the budget comes out and how many students we have and additional funding."
ICSAtlanta plans to move into a building close to Ga. 400 as to be easily accessible for families from other counties. In ICSAtlanta's application, the school aims to be a multi-county charter allowing enrollment from the Forsyth, Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett and Cherokee counties.
If approved, this charter school will be the first of its kind in the state. The current student cap is 300, but ICSAtlanta leaders said they plan for that number to grow each year.
The school has already received about 200 "intent to apply" inquiries.
"I'm excited about the charter program," said Raju Nagarajan, another attendee of the meeting. "I'm not so sure about language being the main focus. I was hoping for a charter school to provide science, math and technology."
Nagarajan's concerns were echoed throughout the question and answer time. Many residents asked about the curriculum and how much time will be allotted to other disciplines apart from language.
The charter school will follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum, specifically the "Primary Years Programme." This certain program is geared toward children ages 3 to 12 and is broken down into six different units throughout the school year.
"There's one unit that's very social studies oriented, one that's very scientific and one that's very creative," said Christina Crumbley, a founding board member. "It sort of meets every discipline and gives every child an opportunity to flourish. It's really well done."
ICSAtlanta will be for kindergarten to eighth grade, and when the school opens, they plan to add a grade each year.
"We are following a curriculum just like you are seeing today," Crumbley continued.
A second town hall meeting is scheduled to be held March 23 at 10 a.m., however, a meeting place has not been announced yet.
Visit www.icsatlanta.org for more information.