With the recent approval by the Alabama Public Charter Schools Commission for a new charter school in Sumter County, the University of West Alabama is preparing to transition the efforts of the planning team to the school’s founding board of directors in August. The University will continue to provide support and assistance to the Charter School to help ensure its long-term success.
The school is set for opening August 2018, and the coming year will serve as the planning year. University Charter School becomes only the 4th charter school approved in the state since the passing of the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act in 2015.
University Charter School, which was proposed and developed by the University of West Alabama, will open its doors to students in pre-k through grade 5 in its first year, with plans to expand through grade 12 in subsequent years.
The project has been led by a steering committee of community and civic leaders, as well as a planning committee from the University. Prior to the application submission on May 1, nearly $400k in support funds had been pledged from throughout the community. Although verbally approved by the Commission during a June 27 presentation, the school will be officially approved on July 26 at the APCSC’s quarterly meeting in Montgomery.
UWA President Ken Tucker has high expectations for the school and said that the University’s administration is confident that this is a step in the right direction for Sumter County and beyond.
“This innovative project has the potential to be transformative for Sumter County and our region, and we are confident that the model will have a positive and lasting impact on rural schools throughout the state, and even perhaps the nation, for many years to come,” Tucker said.
“University Charter School is an innovative initiative that directly aligns with UWA’s mission to ‘improve the region through education and outreach,’” Tucker explained.
“University Charter School will be as unique as the histories, cultures, and landscapes of its constituents, resulting in the development of a rural, community-based school that will bring real opportunities to the children in our community.”
University Charter School’s place-based instructional model is designed to ensure that students get to know their community and the people and opportunities in it.
“University Charter School also has the potential to breathe new economic life into our rural community,” Tucker said. “As the first rural charter school in Alabama, we have an opportunity to do something unique, innovative and transformational, and we are very excited about the potential to positively impact the educational, economic and workforce development systems in our region.”
Tucker said that the application team placed significant emphasis on the needs of the community while incorporating best practices known to enhance communities and work forces nationwide.
“By focusing on community cooperation and inclusiveness, and by providing students with a quality customized learning experience, we intend to graduate students with a skill set that prepares them for economic independence and success throughout their lives, whether it be college or career.”
University Charter School was one of three applications presented to the Commission for the year. It was the only school to be granted full approval upon presentation, a unanimous vote of approval. Another was approved with condition, and another was denied approval.
“What better time than this for all of you to rise up and make a difference in your county?” one commissioner said to the team. “Do well. Go forth and do well, do the best you can for the kids in your county.”
Tucker said that he has high expectations for the school and is confident in the direction it is taking.
“Because of the unique approach and the newness of charter schools in Alabama, University Charter School will blaze a trail of educational innovation, collaboration, and development, empowering the next generation of leaders for our community, our region, and beyond,” Tucker said. “The ultimate goal for the application team has been to establish a holistic framework that will equip every person connected to University Charter School—whether as a student, an educator, or partner—to learn, grow, serve, and succeed in all academic and career endeavors.”
Tucker commended the application team and said that the quality of work produced to develop the application confirms a need and provides a viable solution.
“The application team’s focus on maintaining integrity, transparency, professionalism, expertise, and commitment to serving others has been truly exemplary,” Tucker said. “The Commission’s stamp of full approval on the University Charter School application offers assurance that our dedicated team has fully addressed every aspect of establishing a charter school, from identifying the wide range of needs and validating those, to developing the strategic plans that offer an innovative and all-inclusive and realistic approach to addressing those needs, and an exemplary plan for curriculum and programming. This is a tremendous accomplishment for our county and region.”
To learn more about University Charter School, call 205-652-5459. Enrollment, employment, and other information about the school will be advertised as it continues to be developed.