Bibb charter schools ramping up preparation

mstucka@macon.comDecember 13, 2013 

  • Macon Charter Academy

    • Leadership: Search is underway
    • Location: To be announced
    • Plans: Open in fall 2014 with 600 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Ultimately expand to 900 students, kindergarten through eighth grade.
    • Curriculum: International Baccalaureate for elementary and middle schools, providing a path to the International Baccalaureate program at Central High School.
    • Websites:;
    • Events: Will be announced through mailing list, with sign-up on the website.

    Academy for Classical Education

    • Leadership: Laura Perkins, school complex principal; Greg Evans, elementary school principal; Esterine Stokes, dean of instruction
    • Location: To be announced.
    • Plans: Open in fall 2014 with 760 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, expanding to 1,460 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
    • Curriculum: Classical education model with blended learning delivery; Latin starting in third grade. Lessons organized around themes of ancient to modern history.
    • Websites: www.academyforclassical;
    • Events: Drop-in parent information, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 11 at Harvest Cathedral, 2254 Rocky Creek Road, Macon; teacher recruitment fair sessions at 10 a.m. and noon Jan. 25 at the Wellness Center, 3797 Northside Drive, Macon.

Representatives of Bibb County’s first charter schools say they’re working hard to open next fall.

They’re negotiating to secure sites for the schools, the Academy for Classical Education and the Macon Charter Academy, and those deals could close in the next two weeks.

Laura Perkins, principal of the entire Academy for Classical Education complex, said the school already has 188 resumes from teachers, and efforts to interest parents and students also have been successful.

“We are currently at 545 applications,” Perkins said. “We’ve just been absolutely thrilled at how excited parents have been -- and teachers too.”

Monya Rutland, a consultant to the Macon Charter Academy, said officials have been focused on getting the International Baccalaureate curriculum in place and working to ensure a smooth transition from the charter school to Central High School in several years. Students in fourth grade today would be the first to transition to the public high school’s International Baccalaureate program.

“We really want a seamless transition once students start leaving Macon Charter and going to Central,” she said.

Rutland said the school has also solidified its board of directors and hopes to have a principal in place in the next 30 to 60 days, “as soon as that right person appears.”

The school also plans to begin taking applications in the next month, with the principal making the hiring decisions.

Charter schools are publicly funded. They operate under a charter, pledging that they’ll produce certain results in student achievement in exchange for some latitude from particular state education mandates. Charter school students take state standardized tests and do not pay tuition.

In presentations earlier this year, the founders said the schools will complement, rather than compete with, the Bibb County public school system. The Macon Charter Academy pointed out the plans to transition its students from an early and middle school International Baccalaureate program to the Central High program. The founders of the Academy for Classical Education described themselves as longtime Bibb County educators who would never hurt the school system.

Kristi Hilliard said she really likes Alexander II Elementary School, where her first- and third-grade girls go now. But she’s also certain that, if accepted, her children will attend the Academy for Classical Education next fall.

“It’s going to be an excellent learning environment, an excellent curriculum, without the high cost of private schools. That’s very important for the people who can’t afford private school tuition,” Hilliard said.

Hilliard said she’s interested in the school’s promises of a rigorous curriculum and how her children can get to know all the teachers through their senior year of high school. She thinks the school could have fewer discipline problems in later grades, letting students focus on learning and teachers on teaching.

Nanci Kistler, the mother of an 11-year-old Bibb County sixth-grader, likes the promise of the Academy for Classical Education to teach Latin. That language will help her son on the SAT and in other ways. She also likes the school’s requirements for summer reading and parental participation, but said discipline is important.

“There’s always the issue of discipline in the public school system,” she said. “And when you repeatedly have children who are discipline problems, you’re stealing my educational time, and we don’t get as much educational time.”

The Bibb County school board overwhelmingly supported both charter proposals in September. Rutland said she expects her school will also get state approval in February.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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