Matthew Kirby, ACA launch team chairman.
Matthew Kirby, ACA launch team chairman.

The founders of a charter school in Buckhead are publically thanking Atlanta Board of Education Member Nancy Meister, District 4, for securing approval and funding for the school.

Atlanta Classical Academy Launch Team Chairman Matthew Kirby said Meister was the main reason the BOE unanimously approved the charter on Aug. 12, despite a recommendation from Superintendent Erroll Davis to deny the charter petition.

“Thanks in large part to the leadership of District 4 Representative Nancy Meister, the board prioritized the benefits of school choice and our high quality school plan,” Kirby said in an email. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with APS to create a high performance organization that will be great for kids, for families, and for Atlanta.”

The thank you comes as Meister seeks reelection to the District 4 seat. She faces opposition from Taryn Chilivis Bowman.

Meister discussed the ACA approval during a recent Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting.

“I think this is a great opportunity for our kids to have a choice,” Meister said.

With the approval process out of the way, ACA is in the midst of planning for its 2014 opening date. Unlike other north Atlanta schools, which utilize the International Baccalaureate program, Atlanta Classical will use the classical model which promotes literacy in Western traditions.

Kirby said the school will be open to all students of Atlanta Public Schools.

“We will conduct a series of informational meetings beginning in October,” Kirby said. “Enrollment will be from Jan. 2 – Feb. 14, 2014. ACA will open for the 2014-2015 school year for students in grades K – 8. We encourage families to join our email distribution list at AtlantaClassical.org so that they can stay informed.”

Kirby said there is currently no headmaster in place. He said ACA has received several applications and said the community will become involved in picking the new school leader. He said ACA hopes to have the new headmaster in place by “early 2014.”

He said the school’s location will be announced soon.

“We are still negotiating the particulars of our facility, and we look forward to making detailed announcements in the coming weeks,” Kirby said. “We believe the community will be pleased with the location and the facility.”

Kirby said ACA anticipates its annual budget will be $4.5 million to $6.5 million, an amount that’s based on anticipated per-student revenue.

The school will be K-8, capped at 54 students per grade, for a total of 486 students. Maximum enrollment will be 700 students. Eventually the school will serve grades K-12, Kirby said.

“To the extent that classes are over-enrolled, ACA will conduct a lottery,” Kirby said.

Kirby said the school is working to address concerns about the school’s diversity plan raised during the charter’s approval process.

“From the very beginning, we have partnered with organizations like LaAmistad and the Agape Center specifically so that we have clear communications with all kinds of Atlanta families,” Kirby said.

“In fact, the executive directors of both of these organizations are members of ACA’s governing board. Ahead of the enrollment process, we will execute a marketing plan geared to let all APS families know that we are an option – just as we did ahead of our approval. We have committed to providing limited transportation for up to 15 percent of our students, and our intent is to make this available to families who would otherwise not be able to access ACA.”