A conversion to a charter school in 2003 has worked well enough for Spalding Drive Charter Elementary School that the Sandy Spring school is seeking the charter’s second renewal.
That renewal will position the school to take advantage of next year’s opening of the school on Ison Road, which is projected to cut enrollment from 690 this year to 403 next fall. The state capacity for the school is 575, so two grades now are housed in trailers.
Spalding Drive Principal Christine Young and parents Linda Trickey and Kevin Farmer presented the case for a five-year renewal at the September work session of the Fulton County Board of Education. Also applying for renewal that day were Amana Academy in Alpharetta and Hapeville Charter Middle School.
The Board of Education approved the applications Oct. 16. The state Board of Education is scheduled to act March 11.
Young laid out a plan for more of the same approaches that have helped her school meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards each year, reduce the number of families leaving the school and boost parental involvement.
The school takes a technology-heavy approach to learning, including the use of 30 interactive whiteboards (one in almost every classroom), the creation of Internet-ready personal home pages for 90 percent of fourth- and fifth-graders, the use of podcasts, and virtual field trips to NASA facilities and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“We have become recognized in the community,” Young said, so that parents no longer wonder why they should send their children to Spalding Drive. Now the question is “Why not Spalding?”
The renewal petition calls for expanding the technological offerings and for increasing the required parental involvement hours from 10 to 12 a year.
As part of its community connection, the school has held a parent university — a series of workshops over several months — each of the past three years in partnership with the Latin American Association. Young said each session drew about 50 parents.
Farmer, who has children in kindergarten and second grade, told the school board Spalding Drive is “truly a community school.”
“Our school has been through a lot and has recovered because of the charter,” he said. “It has pulled the community together.”
Spalding Drive Charter has succeeded and deserves renewal, Sandy Springs school board member Gail Dean told the presenters.
— Michael Jacobs