Gene Eidelman, president of Mosaica Education, Inc., went before the Marietta school board on Tuesday to request approval of a five-year charter school called The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Academy of Cobb. The Marietta school board has 60 days from March 1, when the petition was filed for the academy, to approve or deny the charter.
Eidelman said he would also go before the Cobb school board to obtain approval from it so that students in both the Marietta and Cobb systems could attend at a yet to be decided location.
Eidelman said he needs both school boards to approve the charter or else he will request approval from the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.
A Ukraine native, Eidelman, who lives in Sandy Springs, said Mosaica was formed 14 years ago, and manages 75 charter schools in the U.S. and 15 outside the country. It manages one in Georgia called Atlanta Preparatory Academy, a K-6 school located by the Georgia Dome, which he invited board members to visit.
Eidelman said he doesn't have a school site located yet, although he was eying the building that currently houses the Imagine Marietta Charter School off Wright Street near Powder Springs Street, a school that is expected to close June 30.
The Marietta school board voted June 28, 2010, to reject the Marietta Charter's request to renew its charter for five more years after Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck recommended denial, citing wide-ranging problems with enrollment, finances, student achievement and curriculum.
Eidelman said regardless of where his proposed school would be located, he expected the majority of students to come from the Cobb School District.
Under Eidelman's proposal, transportation would not initially be provided, although lunch would be. The program would offer Spanish in all grades, and accept special needs students and English language learners, he said. The goal would be to open with grades K-4 the first year, and add a grade each year so that by the end of the five-year charter term it would have expanded to K-8. The ultimate goal is to expand to K-12, he said.
His charter petition projects 450 students for 2012 in grades K-4, growing to 750 students in 2016 with grades K-8.
The school would have a 200 day calendar, compared to Marietta's 178 days, and a 7.5 hour school day, compared to Marietta's 7 hour school days, with the exception of Marietta Middle School, which has a seven-hour-fifteen-minute school day.
Eidelman pledged to meet AYP requirements under No Child Left Behind the first year.
"Right now it's fairly easy to do," he said.
Lembeck said she would likely bring the board a recommendation at its April 12 meeting.
"Initially I would say they tried to present that the charter school would be another choice for better or for worse and initial impressions are that their board may not be really reflective of the community, and then of course they made it clear that the majority of interest was not within the city limits," Lembeck said after the meeting.
To date, the proposed school has a board of three, with two Acworth residents and one from east Cobb, Eidelman said.
Board Chairwoman Irene Berens told Eidelman she was disappointed he didn't bring any Marietta residents with him in support of the school.
"Their presentation while informative left me with some questions about exactly how informed and involved Marietta City School parents are (with the proposal), and we're responsible for Marietta City School parents," Berens said. "I did not hear anything that was not something we don't already have in our schools except for the extended day and extended year possibility, and I was a little bit confused about how they were actually going to accomplish that."