Parents made more than 1,300 applications for their children to attend the Fulton County School System’s new online school, which could be named after baseball legend Hank Aaron.
Gyimah Whitaker, FCS’s deputy chief academic officer, updated the Fulton County Board of Education about the online school at its Feb. 10 meeting. The school district opened applications on Jan. 25 for the online school planned to open for the 2021-2022 academic year. When the final day for applications ended on Feb. 5, FCS had received 1,387 applications in grades 3 through 11, Whitaker said.
“Because of the overwhelming interest in grades 3 through 5, staff increased the elementary grades by 30 students,” she said.
Unlike the district’s remote learning option that FCS was forced to adopt by the pandemic, the online school is a permanent and voluntary creation. A full course load will be available for students, including high school grades.
All families who applied will receive either acceptance or wait-list notification on Feb. 12. Those families whose children were accepted into the school have until Feb. 26 to confirm their enrollment, Whitaker said. If any parents fail to confirm that acceptance, the district will go to the next student on that grade’s wait list.
A recommendation for the name of the online school was developed by a committee consisting of representatives from student government councils, City Councils and community organizations, including Kathy Shapiro of the Sandy Springs Education Force.
The committee has narrowed its recommendations to two choices: Hank Aaron Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence (Hank Aaron FAVE) or Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence (FAVE).
Aaron was a professional Major League Baseball player who spent all but two of his 23 seasons with the Milwaukee Braves and then Atlanta Braves when the team moved. He broke Babe Ruth’s then record of 714 home runs in 1974 at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, ending his career with 755 home runs. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Aaron died in Atlanta on Jan. 22.
Whitaker said all the students who gave committee members feedback loved the idea of having “FAVE” in the school name.
The FCS staff is working to get approval from the state for the school so it can get funding. Typically, a school name is needed to proceed. If the name choice is delayed this month, that could delay state approval as spring break nears, she said.
Board member Linda McCain said if the board chooses “Hank Aaron,” board policy prohibits its use for another school. Another district school can never be named that because you can’t have conflict of names, she said.
McCain said she likes the name. She did say some residents in her district saw it as a stigma to have “virtual” as part of the school name.
Board President Julia Bernath said the school name will be put on the board’s Feb. 18 agenda for discussion, where she hoped a name will be chosen.