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October 21. 2013 9:42PM

Granite State Arts Academy in Derry to host its third open house

DERRY — A third open house is scheduled for the Granite State Arts Academy, a planned charter school, on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The open house is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the school’s proposed site, 16 Route 111, Building 4. It will include a question-and-answer session and tours of the site, Chairwoman Wendie Leweck said.

Two previous open houses, held on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, generated a lot of interest and questions from parents, Leweck said.

Based on the surge in interest, the school for grades nine through 12 should easily reach its total enrollment of 160 students, or 40 students per grade, Leweck said.

“The response has been enormous, and I don’t think we’ll have any trouble meeting our numbers,” Leweck said.

Every day, Leweck said she is receiving a dozen or so emails and phone calls from parents interested in learning more about the academy. She added that she does her best to respond to the many inquiries.

The school has filled eight of its 11 positions on the board of trustees, with two members from the Derry-Salem area. Leweck said she hopes more members will be added from the area in the coming weeks.

The search to fill the director of school position is under way, and the academy hopes to have completed its administrative staff hiring by February. With the staff in place, the school would begin accepting student applications in March, she said.
The school was just approved by the Board of Education on Aug. 19. The arts academy is only the fourth new charter school to be approved this summer after the Board of Education lifted a moratorium on new charter schools in New Hampshire.

Plans call for the academy to open in September 2014. If enrollment exceeds available spots, a waiting list will be formed and a lottery system used as openings occur.

Along with a core curriculum, the school will offer four major areas of the arts: dance, music (including voice), theater and visual arts.

Leweck has been focusing on securing critical federal funding in recent weeks. As a charter school, the arts academy will need to raise a lot more money to fund the school’s startup costs.

Of the approximate $12,000 annual cost of educating a student, the school receives about $5,500 per pupil from the state. The remaining balance of federal money, however, doesn’t “follow” the student to the charter school but goes to the public school within the district that the student would have attended, she said.

To help make up the difference and pay for startup costs, the school is applying for a federal grant of approximately $500,000, Leweck said. The grant would go to pay for leasing the location and other startup costs. Leweck said the grant has been submitted and the federal funds are pending.

“We are looking to do some really heaving duty funding, so we can make this as beautiful as everyone hoped it could be,” Leweck said.


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