ROSWELL — The Fulton Academy of Science and Technology charter school in Roswell is poised to earn another five-year extension on its charter after posting positive outcomes.
This month the Fulton County Board of Education accepted staff recommendation to renew the charter and will formally vote on the issue in December. The extension will allow FAST to operate as an independent charter school through 2026.
FAST Principal Stan Beiner said he is optimistic about the school’s charter extension but noted there are still several steps to go.
“The Fulton School Board won’t officially vote on [the renewal] until December and we then go to the state,” Beiner said. “[But] it does look good since [Fulton] recommended a full five-year renewal.”
Charter schools are public schools operating under a contract, or charter, with the local school board. In exchange for flexibility from some board mandates, the charter school agrees to academic performance at or above its peer public schools. The schools are open to all students in the district.
There are currently 10 independent charter schools in the Fulton School System, most in South Fulton. Amana Academy (K-8) in Alpharetta and FAST are the only charter schools in North Fulton.
In recommending renewal, district staff noted “FAST had a strong start in year one of its initial charter term, and has remained a strong performer” among schools in the Fulton County system.
FAST students have outperformed their peers across both district and state schools on the annual measure of performance, known as the College and Career Ready Performance Index, and on standardized testing.
In the recommendation report, district officials cited the school’s strong financial management, governance structure and community engagement as reasons for renewal. Traditionally, these are areas where charter schools have lagged.
The K-8 public charter school opened in 2016 initially with grades K-5, and grew to include the middle school grades over the next three years. The school’s founding was a grassroots effort by parents whose children previously attended a charter school which lost its charter and closed.
The parents were able to successfully hurdle the requirements necessary to establish FAST, with the goal of more parent control over the school operations and better relationships with the Fulton School System staff. Both issues were key factors in their previous school losing its charter.
Charter school earns STEM certification and accreditation
The Fulton Academy of Science and Technology recently earned both accreditation and STEM Provider Certification by Cognia Global Accreditation Commission certifying the school’s high-level focus on science, technology engineering and math.
"School accreditation by Cognia provides FAST a nationally recognized mark of quality for our school," Principal Stan Beiner said. "Becoming accredited was a major goal of FAST as a relatively new charter school. At the same time, we also applied for STEM certification.”
Conducting two accreditation reviews simultaneously was a challenge, he said, but it was worth it to have the school’s achievements validated.
The Roswell-based public charter school opened five years ago for grades kindergarten through fifth grade, and has since expanded to eighth grade. Its current enrollment is approximately 700 students.
Beiner said the school’s focus on STEM includes science classes every day using the hands-on FOSS Science curriculum, Singapore Math for its math curriculum, and a unique Innovation Hour/Genius Hour program in all grades.
"We are even more motivated now to build upon our reputation for innovation and creativity while serving a diverse population of children from over 50 nations,“ Beiner said.
To earn Cognia accreditation, a school also must implement a continuous process of improvement and submit to an internal and external review. Schools in good standing can maintain their accreditation for a five-year term.