Charter academy meets to discuss ninth-grade plans
by Megan Thornton
March 27, 2013 11:20 PM | 2134 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Plans for the addition of a ninth-grade class next year were presented at Cherokee Charter Academy’s local governing council meeting Wednesday.

Board members present included Dudley Wass, Byron Green, Danny Dukes, Larry Blase and newly appointed member Sean Jerguson. Principal Vanessa Suarez was also in attendance.

Calling in via teleconference were board member Jonathan Pfohl, Charter Schools USA employees Robin Sandler, Hillary Daigle, Mary Vecchione and Dr. Deborah Nauss. Board Chair Heather Blevins was absent.

In CCA’s charter approval by the state Department of Education earlier this year, the school petitioned for expansion to include a high school. No plans for the new high school facility have been publicly discussed.

For the coming year, the school will only add on a ninth grade to be served in its current facility off Sixes Road.

Suarez said on March 18 she held a meeting with eighth-grade parents to provide more information about CCA’s addition of a ninth grade, which ran the gamut from graduation requirements to possible athletic offerings.

“We are continuing with the Cambridge (International Examinations) program in high school,” Suarez said of CCA’s advanced course offerings. “However, it will not be fully implemented until they are sophomores because that is the first time they can get credit for an AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) course.”

Out of 47 eighth-grade students, Suarez said 34 parents of students attended the meeting.

Suarez told parents several universities accept the AICE credits, including University of Georgia, University of West Georgia, Berry College, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as many international universities.

The two Advanced Placement courses the school will offer will include AP Biology and AP Human Geography, but Suarez said students will be recommended to take only one of these courses during their freshman year. She added the school will look at using Georgia Virtual School to offer these online courses.

As part of the budget for next year, Suarez said she will request CSUSA, CCA’s education management organization, to look at adding an additional laboratory classroom.

Also, the school will have five College and Career Pathways: Foundations of Engineering, Intro to Healthcare, Intro to Graphic Design, Broadcast Video Production and Computing in the Modern World. There will also be a Fine Arts pathway for music and arts students, Suarez said.

“Those pathways were based on the student and parent survey that we took when we were first applying for the high school,” Suarez said.

At the information session, Suarez said she also told parents the school will apply for the Georgia High School Athletics Association in 2014, but because the school is starting with such a small group of ninth-graders, they will play competitive sports with local private schools. Suarez said those sports are likely to include volleyball, swimming, cheerleading, cross country and basketball.

In school reports, Suarez said the school has a total enrollment of 1,000 with 995 in attendance. In February, 14 students withdrew, with five citing moving out of the area, four with transportation issues, two for discipline reasons and three returning to homeschool.

So far, 989 students have recommitted to attend the school next year and five students have newly enrolled. The waitlist sits at 222 students.

Suarez said those are in addition to 120 kindergarteners next year and increasing sixth grade from 115 to 125 students.

“We are right on target,” Suarez said. “And that doesn’t include the ninth grade.”

Also during the meeting, the board heard a presentation from CSUSA Vice President of School Operations Robin Sandler about the reorganization of the education management organization and the addition of new positions within the company.

CSUSA presently serves 48 schools and will work with over 60 next year, Sandler said.
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