Brookhaven’s mayor and City Council say they are ready to take on the added duty of acting as a governing board for a new charter school in the city, and they’ve also received support from the DeKalb County school superintendent.
“We’re all passionate about education,” Mayor J. Max Davis told the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia on Aug. 1. “Our job is to get this school started, make sure it runs well, and that we have the best people possible to run it.”
Davis and members of Brookhaven City Council went before the commission on Aug. 1 to answer questions about their proposal to start the new charter school, to be called the Brookhaven Innovation Academy.
Days earlier, DeKalb Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond wrote to the commission in support of the school.
“Overall, the district supports the inaugural operation of this progressive statewide charter school in DeKalb County,” his letter reads, describing the school’s proposal to teach computer language coding to students in kindergarten through 12th grade as “impressive and admirable.”
The DeKalb school board and the state commission, still would have to approve the school. The letter did raise some concerns, such as the fact that the school would be located in the same region as Cross Keys High School, which could impact that school’s “delicate demographic make-up, test data and graduation rate.”
But council members maintained that the school, which would give priority to Brookhaven applicants followed by DeKalb students, would benefit not only Brookhaven, but the county as a whole.
“All of the public schools in the city of Brookhaven are over 100 percent capacity,” Mattison said, adding later, “Michael Thurmond and the DeKalb County School System can’t build schools fast enough.”
During the hearing, a lot of the commissioners’ questions to city councillors centered around council members’ ability to operate both a city and a school.
Council members said the key would be finding the right people to run the school’s day-to-day operations. “Our experience as City Councilmen and women lends a great deal of experience to what we’re charged to do as members of the governing board of Brookhaven Innovation Academy,” Councilman Bates Mattison said.
Commissioner Gregg Stevens said that the school’s petition would be approved or denied in August or September. He said the panel will provide feedback to the commission staff which will recommend approval or denial to the full commission, or could request more information or clarification.
If approved, the school will open in August 2015 with 420 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, city officials said. The plan is to add a grade each year until the school reaches 12th grade, they said.
Eventually, the school would include about 1,300 students on campus, and hundreds more taking courses online, said Glenn Delk, a consultant on the proposal.