Five want new charter schools in county

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 06:40 PM

Five potential charter schools in Union County submitted their official letters of intent to the state department of instruction. 

Across the state, 156 letters of intent were submitted. 

Ballancrest Elementary School, Frontier Academy, Patriot Academy, Renaissance Charter Academy at Union County and Union West Academy have until March 1 to submit their proposals for review if they wish to open by the fall of 2014. 

Renaissance Charter Academy at Union County is a proposed Kindergarten through eighth grade school. It was proposed by John Snyder, the former district attorney of Union County. 

"We are looking to open a charter school and the focus will be on business and entrepreneurship and incorporating the principles that go along with that including the values that are required to be successful in business," Snyder said. 

In addition, the school would teach the economic principles that accompany business. 

"The principles of business apply everywhere," Snyder said. "The economic principles begin on the micro scale and expand to the macro." 

Snyder said he sees a need in the area for a school focused on business and preparing people for the next stage. 

"Instead of being focused on results, we can teach principles and then watch the results roll in," Snyder said. 

However, Snyder said the school is not meant to take away from anyone else, just to offer a different viewpoint.

"Union County has amazing schools," Snyder said. He added that people move here from across the country to attend the schools. 

"The idea behind the school isn't to take away from anyone else," Snyder said. 

Another proposed school is Frontier Academy, which would ultimately serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

Norman George said the school would have a fairly classical education. 

"(It is) a program that provides students first of all solid reading skills and mathematical skills and then develops their abilities to reason and utilize logic and exposes them to the great books of history, the great ideas of various philosophers and leaders through the ages," George said. "A comprehensive understanding of our civilization and their place in it."

In addition, the school will have "fairly in-depth character development" that will be facilitated through athletics. The program would promote physical fitness, but also derive specific lessons through sportsmanship, George said. 

George has been involved with charter schools for about 15 years and said he sees an interest in various alternative education options for students in Union County and other counties. 

"My desire is to help facilitate local folks having that option," George said. 

Ballancrest Elementary proposed to offer a program for gifted children focusing on science, math, literacy and technology, Carolina Walker said. 

Walker said there is often controversy around schools for gifted children because they are seen as exclusive. However,t hat is not what they are trying to do, she added. 

"What we too often fail to realize is that (gifted children) are often at-risk as well," Walker said. "These students need more and they need something different as well." 

Walker also runs a prekindergarten center in Charlotte where they use science and elementary level curricula to learn. 

"(We) went in with the assumption that children are capable and interested in much more than we give them credit for," Walker said. 

The proposed school would teach the basics, then encourage them to take the next step in learning by encouraging creativity, Walker said.  

Union West Academy may not submit a proposal this year due to time constraints, however, James Turner, the contact, plans to submit one next year. 

"(Our) long-term goal is to form an academy that will cater to children and parents who are interested in learning a foreign language and going through school studying more than one language," Turner said. "That is our long-term vision."

The idea came from his wife, who is originally from Mexico and speaks Spanish. She observed that bilingual children often lose the ability to speak their parent's language either from lack of practice or out of embarrassment. 

Eddie Goodall, the contact for Patriot Academy, could not be reached before press time. 

The proposals will receive preliminary approval in September. The schools will receive final approval by December 2013 or January 2014. 

Public charter schools are free to the public. They are funded using tax dollars. They were established to provide alternatives for education.