State Commission Approves Birmingham Charter School

(Source: Creative Commons)

The Alabama Public Charter School Commission approved plans for a new charter school in Birmingham on Monday. The Birmingham school board rejected the i3 Academy application in January, and school organizers appealed to the state.

The next step is for i3 Academy and the state to negotiate a contract for the school. It will outline expectations for academic performance, school operations and finances, school officials said.

Logan Searcy, the Alabama State Department of Education’s liaison to the charter school commission, said the charter school contracts are legally binding agreements.

“The perception that charter schools (in Alabama) are not accountable is not accurate,” Searcy said. “Charter schools have expectations. If they don’t meet those expectations, they can be closed in five years.”

The state will review the school annually, she said.

Tommy Bice, former state education superintendent, is part of the team working to establish i3 Academy. He said the school will be opened with the expectation that students can perform at a higher level.

“All kids can learn when given the right instruction,” Bice said.

I3 Academy will offer grades K-5 in the Woodlawn area. Enrollment will be open to any student in Birmingham, according to the school’s proposal.

After negotiating the contract with the state, Bice said, school leaders will look at the type of teachers needed to help students achieve their best.

Charter schools receive public funds. State law gives them flexibility to operate separately from the traditional school board.

Because i3 Academy was rejected by the Birmingham school board, the Birmingham board will not oversee school operations.

I3 Academy plans to open in the Woodlawn area in 2020. It will be the second Birmingham-area charter school. Legacy Prep is scheduled to open in August in west Birmingham.