Alabama’s first charter school approved for Mobile

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Plans to open Alabama’s first charter school have been approved.

The Alabama Charter School Commission voted Tuesday to allow the Accel Day and Evening Academy to begin operations in Mobile. The school will serve students at least 16 years of age who have dropped out or fallen behind academically.

“What we really want to do is use the charter opportunity as a way to take it to the next scale, to serve the more than 2 -thousand young people down on the Gulf Coast of Mobile who really need this option,” says Jeremiah Newell of the Mobile Area Education Foundation.

The Alabama Legislature passed a bill in February 2015 authorizing charter schools, which are publicly funded but have more operational freedom than traditional public schools, for the first time. Alabama was the 43rd state to pass a charter school law.

On Tuesday, the 10-member Commission, chaired by former state Superintendent Ed Richardson, interviewed three applicants hoping to start charter schools in their areas.

  • Edge Preparatory School: Based in Huntsville, the school would be primarily intended for students zoned for elementary schools in lower-income areas.
  • Accel Day and Evening Academy: The Mobile Area Education Foundation plans to start this high school for students 16 and older who have dropped out or fallen behind.
  • The Sports Leadership and Management Foundation (SLAM): based in Miami, the school plans to start a school in the Huntsville area for pre-kindergarten through second grade that will use learning programs based on sports themes with a heavy focus on science and technology.

Only the Mobile school was outright approved, which is slated to open for the academic year beginning in August 2017.

SLAM was conditionally approved, but the Commission says operators must get approval under a federal court order on desegregation. The Commission rejected plans for another charter school in Huntsville.

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