School Choice on Its Way to Cherokee
School board members proposed the Cherokee Academies initiative for gifted students in various educational areas.
An evolving list of programs includes Cherokee Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academies, Cherokee Arts Academies, Cherokee Technical High School Academy and Cherokee International Baccalaureate (IB) Academy.
The district will use current staff and classroom space, Superintendent Frank Petruzielo said during Thursday's board meeting. Proposals include the soon-to-be former Teasley Middle School for the Technical High School Academy and a partnership with Reinhardt University in Waleska for the Fine Arts Academy.
Funding will come from grants as well as professional development monies within U.S. Department of Education Race To The Top program.
"I see this as a reconfiguration rather than a whole new strategy for resource allocation," Petruzielo said in response to board member Janet Read's concern about funding.
School board member Mike Chapman was the catalyst for the Cherokee Academies initiative. He proposed the district create its own charter school at the Aug. 18 meeting.
The county already has a charter school, but it's not part of the Cherokee County School District.Cherokee Charter Academy opened Aug. 15 as a state-special charter school after the local school board rejected its petition for a third time in late June. In its 4-3 decision, Cherokee board members cited defects in the petition.
Chapman, a former board member of Appalachian Technical College, said the Cherokee Academies initiative had been a goal of his for the education program there. He said he was glad to see such an "outside of the box" program coming to the district.
If Cherokee students want to be part of any of the programs, they will have to apply. Admission will be based on academic performance, a portfolio and/or audition or testing.
"There is a lot of this we can do even in the current economy," Petruzielo said.
For more on the Cherokee Academies initiative, open the PDF on this page.