A group of parents, educators and business leaders in North Bryan is putting together plans for a public charter school it hopes that it will open in Pembroke beginning with the 2017-18 school year.
Angel Williams, the group’s spokeswoman, said paperwork will be filed with the State Charter Schools Commission by its May 16 deadline.
Bryan ELITE, which stands for Educating Learners by Individualizing Their Education, plans to have a year-round calendar with a maximum of 30 students per grade in sixth through 12th grades.
“We aren’t looking to bash Bryan County Schools or teachers,” Williams said. “Education is tough. There are just a lot of people who are looking for an alternative.”
The school plans to have two classes at each grade level with a maximum of 15 students per class for a total enrollment of 210.
The curriculum will focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). The founding board has three locations in Pembroke in mind where the school could be located. None of them, however, are current or former school buildings.
Registration is open until May 1 online at fs2.formsite.com/BryanEliteCharter2017/form1, and the group has a website, bryanelite2017.wix.com/bryanelitecharter, and Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BryanEliteCharterSchool.
Williams said that if enrollment surpasses 210 by May 1, a public lottery will be used to determine which students are accepted. Signing up for enrollment, however, does not obligate parents to send their children to the school.
“We just want to make sure that anyone who is interested can sign up before the deadline,” she said. “If we get more than 210 before May 1, anyone who registers after that will have to go on a waiting list and won’t be eligible for the lottery.”
Enrollment opened Sunday and is already at more than 100 students, with about 20 percent from other counties. If the school receives authorization, it would be a statewide charter and available to students outside of Bryan County. A chart on the school’s Facebook page details the distance from surrounding areas to Pembroke.
Bryan County Schools Superintendent Paul Brooksher said he is curious to see the charter group’s full application.
“As of today, I know there has been interest expressed in beginning a statewide charter school that is physically located in the Pembroke area of Bryan County,” he said. “Currently, I do not believe they have approval from the state, nor have I seen their application, which should include their model for delivering instruction, finances, staffing and increased accountability measures. Considering my limited knowledge on their proposal for a statewide charter school, I think it is best that I don’t comment at this time.”
Williams said charter supporters had some initial discussions with Bryan County school system officials, but chose not to seek district approval in order to meet the state’s May 16 deadline.
A frequently asked questions section on the group’s website gives details on how the school would work, including a year-round schedule. The academic year would run from July 13 to June 7 and include the standard 180 days of instruction, with short breaks interspersed and longer breaks in late September, late December and late March. There also is a petition on the website people can sign to express support for the school.
Organizers are planning to have a staff of 22, including 18 teachers. All core-curriculum teachers are expected to be state-certified, and about 75 percent of the staff has been filled with verbal commitments. Names of staff members will be released if the school receives state approval.
If approved, the school would be run by a governing board of five or seven members that must adhere to the state Open Meetings Act. Funding would be on a per-pupil basis, but no local tax dollars could be raised. The State Charter Schools Commission says the average brick-and-mortar charter school this year receives $7,945 per student in state funding.
If the group’s application is rejected, Williams said the members will fine-tune the application and resubmit it for the 2018-19 school year.