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Proposed Charter School in Forsyth Promises Bilingual Kids

International Charter School of Atlanta would potentially serve Forsyth and five other counties.

A group of parents hoping to bring a new charter school to south Forsyth County that would potentially serve students in a total of six counties, introduced themselves to the community at a Fowler Park town hall in Cumming on Tuesday.

The International Charter School of Atlanta, if approved, would be open to students from Forsyth, Fulton, Cherokee, Cobb, Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, with the ultimate goal of its students becoming bilingual.

The school would implement a multi-language immersion program in all grades (K-8). Parents would choose a three-language track from English, Spanish, Mandarin, French and German, with English and Spanish being required.

"Our local schools do not provide the training that our students need to compete in the global marketplace," said founding member Marisa Kashapov.

"Understanding the language is understanding the heart of the culture," said Raphael Vandeplas.

The board members also worked to dispel "myths" surrounding charter schools, assuring parents that charter schools are, in fact, public and free, and that while charter schools are granted more flexibility in their curriculum, they are also more accountable.

"We can have our charter revoked if we don't meet the goals we've set forth," said board member Kristine Evjen, who also addressed how charter schools are funded. As public schools, they receive a combination of federal, state and local money. She said that while there is a perception that charter schools take away money from local schools, in reality that doesn't happen because "we are a district public school."

Evjen explained that the school is planning to accept 300 students, and there are 300 public schools in the six counties. For example, the school might only take one student from each school, which is not significant enough to take money away from their budget, she said.

The school is in the process of petitioning with the state to operate, and expects the process to take at least a year. The members do not expect the school to open this August, as they previously stated.

The school has had some 200 "intents to apply," with spots open for 300 students. If more than 300 apply, a lottery will be held. Board members are scouting school locations in south Forsyth County convenient to GA 400.

The board members also answered questions from the standing-room-only crowd of parents in attendance.

Some parents were concerned that there was too much of a focus on language, and not enough on math, science and extra-curricula activities, but board members said the school would offer a full curriculum. 

Board members also encouraged parents to submit "intents to apply," as the more interest there is in the school, the more likely it would be approved and could possibly expand the number of students accepted as well as programs and grades.

For more information, visit the International Charter School of Atlanta website.

What are your thoughts about ICSA offering a multi-language immersion program here in Forsyth County?  Tell us in comments.

r patton February 28, 2013 at 05:13 PM
One question, why is Spanish "required". What makes it better than German or French? I smell a rat on this one?
Rebecca Hacke February 28, 2013 at 08:53 PM
charter schools are government schools....at least funded by at least some tax dollars. Their purpose according to the DOE is for Improving student achievement by expanding public school options through the development of high quality charter schools. http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/default.aspx So how exactly are the kids getting out of government schools? And what is the problem with Spanish. As a child I took years of Latin which allowed me to acquire other Romantic languages and Spanish has been quite useful. But true there is a much stronger literary heritage associated with German and French, as well as commerce languages.
Jonathan Penson March 07, 2013 at 12:10 AM
A charter School is a private school funded by the taxpayer. It lacks transparency. This school is not a neighborhood school, it requires children to spend hours in transportation if they come from Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton counties. This is just another joke on the taxpayers.

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