The School Board is authorized by Virginia law to create charter schools and could approve the school’s application, with or without the school district’s recommendation.
Moniuszko said school officials think the proposed charter lacks sufficient funding to hire a full staff, purchase enough textbooks and pay for significant upgrades to its proposed site in Falls Church.
“They’re not ready,” Moniuszko said. “There are some things they are going to have to do to get approved.”
The Fairfax Leadership Academy’s lead organizer is J.E.B. Stuart High School teacher
, who met with Moniuszko on Friday to review the charter school’s application. Welch said afterward that he felt encouraged.
“This is the first time they are doing this in Fairfax County, so I knew this was going to take some time,” Welch said. “It’s progress. We’re closer to knowing more about what the school district specifically is asking us to do to get to a point where we would be able to get their approval.”
Although the Virginia Board of Education gave its support for the charter school in the spring, the county School Board will decide its fate next month.
Unlike other public schools in the county, the Fairfax Leadership Academy would prepare at-risk students for a college education through a longer school day (eight hours instead of 61
2) and an extended school year (206 days instead of 183).
The school plans to enroll about 450 students in seventh through 12th grades and would largely cater to children from low-income and immigrant families. Welch said the academy’s goal is to help students who may have struggled at other schools and to give those children a better future.
Because of its small size, the school would offer special programs for students. Teachers would help students engage with local businesses to learn about possible careers. The school also intends to offer dual-enrollment classes through Northern Virginia Community College so students could earn college credits.
The charter school has received bipartisan support at the state and local levels. Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) is on the academy’s board of directors. Del. Barbara J. Comstock (R-Fairfax) has also offered her endorsement, and Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen (D-Fairfax) is serving as the school’s counsel.
Steve Greenburg, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, has also endorsed the proposed school.
Moniuszko said the charter school’s proposal was filled with “laudable goals and good ideas.” He said the county’s charter school review committee approached the application with “an open mind and no predetermined conclusions.”