More than 800 families signed up for their children to attend a new charter school to be located in the Buckhead area.
At an enrollment lottery, just 450 of the 1,341 hopeful students were awarded spots at the K-8 school to be called Atlanta Classical Academy, said Matthew Kirby, chairman of the school’s board of directors.
Kirby said there will be just 50 students per grade at the new school, which will focus on a liberal arts model of education.
“We know there’s a pent-up demand for super-high-quality options in the public sector for our community,” Kirby said. “People are really attracted to a decentralized leadership model that places a lot of responsibility into hands of a local board of directors.”
The interest in the new school comes despite there being no information available yet about where the school will be located and who the principal or teachers will be.
Kirby said the school will be located in the North Atlanta High School attendance area. An announcement about the location is expected soon.
“Folks have a ton of questions and we’re going to be working hard to answer them,” Kirby said.
Enrollment was open to all students in the Atlanta Public Schools, though Kirby said most who participated in the lottery conducted Feb. 25 live in the North Atlanta area.
“We certainly are skewed toward north side families, there’s no doubt, but we’ve got kids from all over the district,” Kirby said.
Atlanta Classical Academy was approved by the Atlanta Board of Education in August, despite Superintendent Erroll Davis’ recommendation for denial. Davis recommended denial for all charter school applications due to a lawsuit over the funding of school system pensions.
“Until this court case is resolved, charter schools and traditional schools will continue to be funded at a markedly different rate that will only increase over time,” Davis said in his report. “In good conscience, I cannot recommend increasing the financial burden on traditional school students in order to create new schools that will not pay their share.”
Atlanta Classical Academy is scheduled to open in time for the 2014 school year to start. The school will open with grades K-8, expanding by one grade each year until it is K-12, Kirby said.
Unlike the schools in the North Atlanta High School cluster, the Atlanta Classical Academy will not be part of the International Baccalaureate program, opting instead for the classical education model, which focuses on Western traditions.
The classical education model has been popular with Christian schools, though in the past organizers of the Atlanta Classical Academy have said there will be no religious material in the public school’s curriculum.
“It’s a very traditional, liberal-arts approach,” Kirby said. “Its purpose is to develop intelligent, virtuous citizens. At its core is the pursuit of reading, literacy and language.”