Macon’s newest charter school is postponing the addition of a freshman class.
Cirrus Academy opened a year ago to students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and leaders had hoped to add ninth grade for the 2017-18 school year. But after further review, they decided it was best for the school to remain K-8 for at least another year.
“We wanted to be able to take a slower, more purposeful look to plan things out versus feeling rushed, and the State Charter Schools Commission agreed with us,” said school CEO Ashanti Johnson. “We need to put the brakes on and assess and plan.”
School leaders wanted to ensure that the school has a solid foundation before moving on to that next step, said Sheldon Hart, president of Cirrus’ governance board. Adding another grade — and new programming — was a lot to get done by the second year, Johnson said.
Cirrus’ first day will be Aug. 1, and projected enrollment is 568 students. The school’s 2017-18 budget was passed during a board meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The proposal includes more than $4.5 million in expenditures. Almost $1.95 million has been budgeted for instruction, a little more than $1 million for maintenance and operations, nearly $490,000 for school administration, and about $307,000 for the school nutrition program.
The total number of core teachers is being increased from 32 to 39 1/2, with one position being part-time, Johnson said. Two or three more paraprofessionals will also join the staff. Almost all of the new hires have been made.
With the additional staff, there should be one student for every 22 to 25 students, but administrators hope to continue to cut that teacher-student ratio down in future years, Hart said.
“The first year is always tough. We felt like we had a lot of successes, and we’ve looked through and done assessments to see what we can improve. We are really excited to get that year two off the ground.”
Cirrus will roll out more of the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum from Pitsco Education, and it has put emphasis on the arts by adding chorus, music and creative arts courses, Johnson said.
Cirrus is hosting summer school remediation now, and the Summer Book Club Cafe in July will be open to all of its students.
In addition, teachers will be trained this summer so Cirrus can participate in the Civil Air Patrol program, which focuses on STEM and aerospace lessons. Students who join the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program can become licensed pilots by age 14.