With less than two weeks before its application to the state is due, the North Bryan group of parents, educators and business leaders trying to establish a public charter school in Pembroke is pleased with its progress.
The group had set May 1 as the cutoff for parents to enroll students via the school’s website, with a goal of having two classes of 15 students each in grades six through 12 for a maximum of 210. More than 250 signed up.
Registering at fs2.formsite.com/BryanEliteCharter2017/form1 does not obligate parents to send their children to the school. Those who signed up before Sunday will be chosen through a lottery for the available seats.
Those registering afterward will be placed on a waiting list.
“Every class is full, except 12th grade,” said Angel Williams, a spokeswoman for the group. “We sort of figured that would be the case going in because kids generally don’t want to change schools their senior year.”
Williams said there are enough students signed up now for one senior classroom, but not two. About 20 percent of enrollees are from outside Bryan County.
“We’ve got kids from Evans County, Bulloch County and Chatham County,” Williams said. “There’s a real need for this.”
More information about Bryan ELITE (Educating Learners by Individualizing Their Education), including founding board members, can be found at bryanelite2017.wix.com/bryanelitecharter.
Board members are:
• Jack Carney — attorney/StateCourt judge
• Lisa Crawford — parent/business owner
• Mark Crowe — Bryan County/Pembroke law enforcement
• Tawauna Dixon — Savannah State University Student Services
• Pam Gunter — certified public accountant
• Richard Gunn — parent/Southern Security Alarm
• Kay Hughes — retired Bryan County High School principal/Drug Free Coalition
• Lee Ann Lane — Evans County resident/certified public accountant
• Heather Lanier — director of marketing
• Diane Moore — retired school counselor/City Council
• Angel Williams — parent/business owner
• Sarah Williams — North Bryan County Chamber of Commerce
Tony Roberts, the president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, said the North Bryan group has “the ideal mix” of board members that the State Charter Schools Commission likes to see.
“They definitely have a strong board in their favor,” Roberts said. “They have a wide variety of community leaders and educators. Those are the kinds of backgrounds the commission wants.”
Roberts, whose group advocates for public charter schools, said it is rare that a group is approved the first time it applies.
“A lot of it revolves around what the group doesn’t know,” he said. “It can take a good two years from the initial planning to the opening. But it all depends on the petition, if they have a compelling case and a sound financial plan.”
Angel Williams said the founding board knows there is a slim chance they will get approval on the first try.
“People need to realize that if we don’t get approved this year, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure,” she said. “We didn’t just throw this together. If we don’t get approved, we’ll correct anything they find in our petition and be back next year. Bryan County needs this.”
Bryan ELITE’s curriculum will focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and looks to operate on a year-round calendar from July 13 to June 7. The founding board has three possible locations in Pembroke where the school could be located, although none of them are current or former school buildings.
Organizers are planning on a staff of 22, including 18 teachers. About 75 percent of staff positions have been filled with verbal commitments, and those names will be released if the application is approved.