With just over a month before school starts, the parents of about 300 children found out they would have to find a new school for their kids to attend this year.
The announcement that Macon’s newest charter school, Dream Academy, wouldn’t open Aug. 1 as planned sent parents scrambling to figure out what to do with their children.
“It came as a shock, really out of nowhere in a very short notice,” said parent Chelsea Mathis. “I definitely feel panicked.”
Mathis planned on sending her daughter, Amiyah, to kindergarten at Dream Academy. Amiyah attended pre-K at Northwoods Academy.
She’s zoned for Veterans Elementary School, but going there isn’t Mathis’s favorite option.
“It’s not a school that meets the quality standards that I want to send her to. And it’s late in the game, so a lot of the better schools are already closed as far as being on a waiting list,” Mathis said.
Dream Academy emailed parents Monday about the delay. The school is now set to open August 2019.
“It's not like we’re just not wanting to open,” said Karla Redding-Andrews, Dream Academy board chairwoman. “We have guidelines and rules set in place on us, and we have to follow those, and the state charter commission has told us we cannot open.”
Redding-Andrews did not specifically say why the school could not open, except that “it was a combination of factors.” She advised parents to send their children to the neighborhood school they are zoned for.
"We will open when we can ensure a vibrant and compelling space with innovative education for your children, and currently the timeline and facility we have will not allow that," Redding-Andrews wrote in the email to parents.
Attempts to reach the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Dream Academy’s mission is to encourage students to reach their full potential through a blend of music, arts and academics. It’s located on Madison Street in the Pleasant Hill community in the same building of the failed Macon Charter Academy. That school — which operated under different leadership from Dream Academy — closed after one year.
Students who enrolled at Dream Academy for the 2018 school year will receive priority placement next year. All other applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Mathis’s daughter may or may not be there when the time comes.
“Depending on where I find for my daughter to go this year and if I get her into a curriculum that I really like then I won’t reapply,” Mathis said. “But if she does have to go to our neighborhood school then I will reapply for Dream.”