Members of the board of the proposed Brookhaven Innovation Academy took their case to representatives of Georgia’s State Charter School Commission, hoping the commission would approve the new school on its second time around.

The commission rejected the school’s application last year. Proponents of the public charter school in Brookhaven say they addressed the commission’s concerns in their new application. Among changes they proposed were to expand the planned school board and to include members who were not also members of Brookhaven City Council.

“It’s been two years worth of work to get to this point,” board chairman and Brookhaven City Councilman Bates Mattison said after the meeting. “We’ve dived far deeper than we had last year at this time.”

The school’s backers presented their plan to the members and staff representatives of commission during a hour-long session July 24.

“We feel like we’ve strengthened our application tremendously,” Mattison told the commissioners. “We believe there is absolutely a market-based need for this school,” he said. “We’ve tried to address every one of the concerns brought up last year and we believe we’ve done that. It’s been a long process. … We’ve done everything we can to really meet the needs of the State Charter Commission and meet the needs of the kids.”

The state officials said the board would consider the application in August. If the commission approves the school, proponents plan to open it in August 2016, Mattison said.

As proposed by the board, the school would focus on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, instruction and offer “project-based” instruction during a portion of each school day.

The school would be based in Brookhaven, but, if chartered by the state, accept students from anywhere in Georgia.

Former state Rep. Ed Lindsey of Buckhead, now a BIA board member, said he thought the school could become a model for similar STEM schools around the state. “It is the education program they developed that attracted me to come onto the board …,” he said. “I want to see more high-quality charter schools. I think what we have here will provide a model.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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