Columbia County parents may have a new option for where their children can go to school. New petitions have been submitted by a group who wants to start a charter school focused on the arts.
One of the board members said it was disappointing when a petition for the Columbia County School for the Arts was denied last year. But he said this time around, its product is even stronger than before.
Even though summer has kicked off, it doesn’t stop Lynn Parrish from thinking about the educational opportunities for her family.
“I have some grandkids that are very talented artistically with music and drawing,” said Parrish.
Parrish said with Columbia County growing at a fast rate, many would see the benefit of a charter school.
“I think we need a school that focuses on those things, not just integrate some with the normal school day, I think for kids that are really talented, it would be good to have something that would really focus on those arts,” said Parrish.
Maintaining that focus is what Todd Shafer has been doing for the past couple of years. The state denied the Columbia County School for the Arts’ first petition last summer.
“Could we have opened if we were approved this last cycle, yes, but it would have not been the product that we as a governing board and leadership would have been happy with, it probably wouldn’t have been what the citizens of Columbia County would have been happy with,” said Shafer.
Shafer said there were three areas where the state was concerned. The first was with the strength of its governing board, the second with no clear plan of a facility, and the third was a transition plan.
Now, Shafer said those areas have been addressed with training and a new member added to the board. A 15-acre piece of land is under contract near Blanchard Woods Park if the school gets approved. Shafer said he’s not returning to Columbia County Schools to teach, but to take on a leadership role to get the school up and running.
“It’s a leap of faith, but it’s also based on the fact that we’ve done what the state has asked us to do, and we feel confident that going back this summer to the state commission that we will be approved,” said Shafer.
The Columbia County Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway said the board has 90 days to respond to the petition once it’s received. But if the board wants to deny the petition, they have to do it within 60 days. Carraway said the board will probably act on it at the last board meeting in June.
Shafer said he expects a decision from the state by August. If the school is approved, Shafer said construction of the facility would begin at the end of October.
Stay with News Channel 6 with more on this developing story.