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February 23. 2014 9:54PM

Charter school focusing on leadership coming to Manchester

MANCHESTER — A new charter school focused on developing leaders plans to open near the airport in September, one of four new charter schools in New Hampshire.

The Founders Academy Public Charter School on Perimeter Road hopes to open with 100 students this fall in grades 6 and 7 — and possibly grade 8 — depending on demand, according to Deb Waitt, outreach coordinator for The Founders Academy Public Charter School.

The four new schools brings the state's total to 22, according to the state Department of Education website.

The other schools opening are the Gate City Charter School for the Arts in Nashua (for kindergarten through grades 4), Granite State Arts Academy: A Public Chartered School in Derry (for grades 9 through 12) and Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth (for grades 1 through 3).

Growth plans

The Founders Academy, which announced its location recently, plans to operate grades 6 through 12 eventually.

"The goal is to grow by a grade a year," Waitt said. "We plan to grow by 100 students a year."

It becomes the fourth charter school in Manchester.

The others in Manchester are the Making Community Connections (MC2) Charter School, 60 Rogers St., Unit 203; Polaris Charter School, 100 Coolidge Ave.; and the Mill Falls Charter School, which rents space at the New Hampshire Union Leader on 100 William Loeb Drive.

Matt Southerton, who runs a charter school support organization in Concord, said he provides free technical assistance to people interested in opening a charter school.

"I think a one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn't work for all students," said Southerton, who said he was a founding board member at Founders Academy to allow him to help file the school's articles of incorporation, but he has since resigned. "I think some variety and choice is good within the system."

At Founders Academy, students will learn more than core school subjects.

"What you'll see in addition is business and entrepreneurship, leadership, and a focus on law and ethics and personal responsibility," Waitt said. "The premise of a charter school is choice."

Waitt said school officials plan to have an information booth at McIntyre Ski Area this week during school vacation week.

Original plans, she said, called for the school to be located in Londonderry, but finding a location proved difficult. Informational meetings already have been held in that town.

The building at 5 Perimeter Road needs renovations but is expected to be be ready by August.

The school, which will occupy about 60,000 square feet, is negotiating for the Manchester School District to provide bus service.

Derry's charter school

In Derry, Wendie Leweck said Granite State Arts Academy plans to open with teachers for all four high school grades on Sept. 3, accepting up to 40 students per grade.

"We fully expect to hit our numbrs in grades 9, 10 and 11," said Leweck, who chairs the board of trustees."We want to admit students who are passionate about the arts and give them an opportunity to fulfill all the requirements of graduating high school and even more and allow time in their day, about two hours a day, to hone their craft," she said.

Students will be required to study at least two art forms, such as painting, dancing or music.

Applications will be accepted starting in March.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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