Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis is recommending that the Atlanta Board of Education deny a petition to create a new charter school in Buckhead.

Supporters of the charter school, named Atlanta Classical Academy, had hoped to open the school in Buckhead in 2014. The BOE is set to consider the petition on July 1.

Davis cites several factors behind the recommendation, but emphasized that he felt ACA’s facilities plan wasn’t adequate.

“Atlanta Classical Academy responded to these concerns, but questions still remain, specifically, about the school’s facilities plan,” Davis’ recommendation to the board says. “Specifically, of the three scenarios offered by the charter school in order of preference, the first, sharing the Sutton Middle School facility, is untenable as insufficient space exists to house both schools. The second plan, to open with modular units on the former HCA hospital site cannot be recommended, both because the site has not been secured and because serving students long-term in a modular setting does not meet district minimum expectations for school facilities. The third option, to lease and retrofit a commercial space on Defoors Hills Avenue, requires further discussion and exploration before a positive recommendation can be given.”

The full recommendation is posted beneath this article.

The school concept may still receive approval from a state charter commission, meaning it could still open.

The Buckhead Reporter has reached out to Atlanta Classical Academy representatives for comment.

Here is the full text of Davis’ recommendation:

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS

On April 19, 2013, Atlanta Public Schools received seven petitions for proposed start-up charter schools to begin operations in 2014-2015.Of those petitions, two, Hind’s Feet Montessori School of the Arts and Atlanta Classical Academy, still require board action. Atlanta Classical Academy was reviewed by a team of internal and external experts and was found to be deficient for reasons including insufficient facilities plan and an unidentified school leader coupled with the challenges of opening with nine grades (K – 8) simultaneously.

After thoroughly reviewing the petition and conducting a capacity interview, the review panel had concerns and requested clarification in four areas of the charter school plan: facility plan, school diversity plan, school leader and opening size of school. Atlanta Classical Academy responded to these concerns, but questions still remain, specifically, about the school’s facilities plan. Specifically, of the three scenarios offered by the charter school in order of preference, the first, sharing the Sutton Middle School facility, is untenable as insufficient space exists to house both schools. The second plan, to open with modular units on the former HCA hospital site cannot be recommended, both because the site has not been secured and because serving students long-term in a modular setting does not meet district minimum expectations for school facilities. The third option, to lease and retrofit a commercial space on Defoors Hills Avenue, requires further discussion and exploration before a positive recommendation can be given.

Although the work Atlanta Classical Academy has done in responding to reviewer concerns is appreciated, without more and better information about the facilities plan, I cannot recommend for approval a school opening with nearly 500 students in grades K -8 simultaneously, particularly if the principal has not yet been identified.

In accordance with O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2064, Atlanta Public Schools will provide a written statement of the denial to the charter petitioner and the state board within 60 days of local board action.

RECOMMENDATION:

That the Atlanta Board of Education accept the recommendation of the superintendent to deny the charter school petitions of Atlanta Classical Academy.