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April 29. 2014 10:11PM

Instead of Londonderry, new charter school settles on Manchester location

The Founders Academy Chartered Public School has received applications to fill about half of its inaugural class this fall, while a deal to buy a building in Manchester should be finalized Friday, the school's chairman said Tuesday.

"Because of the ... delayed building search, we are delayed in the admissions process," said Thomas Frischknecht, a school co-founder and chairman of the board of trustees.

The school initially targeted Londonderry, but couldn't find a suitable site. It identified a building at 5 Perimeter Road that The Founders Academy Foundation, which wrote the school's charter, is buying for $1.5 million, he said.

Frischknecht, who also founded the foundation, explained that state law prohibits charter schools from taking on long-term debt in their initial years. He said the foundation will allow the school to locate in a building where it can expand over the years.

The school has received around 50 applications for grades six, seven and eight with hopes of educating 100 students this fall.

"If I have 101 applications, I have to have a lottery, but 100 will get in," he said.

Whether eighth grade will be taught this fall will depend on enrollment figures, he said.

At close to 60,000 square feet, the Manchester location will accommodate up to 650 students, which is the cap for the school's charter. The school hopes to grow by 100 students a year.

There are four new charter schools in New Hampshire scheduled to open later this year. The other schools opening are the Gate City Charter School for the Arts in Nashua (for kindergarten through grades four); Granite State Arts Academy: A Public Chartered School in Derry (for grades nine through 12); and Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth (for grades one through three).

Come September, New Hampshire will have 22 charter schools, according to Michelle Gauthier, who works in the charter school office at the state Department of Education.

There were 2,097 students enrolled in public charter schools as of last October.

Founders Academy also marks the fourth charter school in Manchester.

Charter schools receive state adequacy funds to help run their schools: $3,749.15 per kindergartner and $5,490.80 per student in grades one through 12.

Upcoming information sessions for the Founders Academy will be held May 7 at West Community Branch Library in Manchester at 6:30 p.m.; May 12 at the downtown Manchester City Library at 7 p.m.; May 16 at the Kelley Library in Salem at 7 p.m. and May 20 at the Merrimack YMCA at 7 p.m.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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