A charter school company that focuses on classical education, discipline and rigorous academic standards will open its first K-12 campus in St. Cloud's Narcoossee corridor and is scoping out more locations in Central Florida for future campuses.
The American Classical Charter Academy received its charter from Osceola County last May. It's one of three new charter schools scheduled to open in the coming school year. ACCA paid $1 million earlier this week for the 7+ acres on Hickory Tree Road, about a half mile south of U.S. 192, and immediately broke ground on the new K-8 building, president Mark Gotz confirmed.
Gotz said his company has been involved in developing 11 charter schools, but this is their first classical academy. He chose St. Cloud for his Central Florida entry because of the huge amount of new residential development coming to the area. St. Cloud is the fastest growing municipality in Florida. The company is also looking for additional school sites (7-10 acres) in Osceola County, as well as in Polk, Lake and Hillsborough counties.
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"Charter schools are about options," he said. "I've seen classical schools all over the country, and they've all been highly successful programs regardless of whether it's in a high-income area or an area of need."
Michael Ezzard of Southcrest Management is the design-build contractor. The 1-story building will have 40,000 square feet and will house the acadamy's kindergarten, elementary and middle school programs. The first phase will have 504 student stations, and ACCA will add a new class each successive year until the first students graduate high school in 2026. By that time, the school should accommodate 750 students.
"For the overall facility, we're focused on security," Gotz said. "So when we have all the students in the school, when the bell rings it locks down."
Gena Smith, Chief Academic Officer of Classical Charter Management Group, LLC, said classical schools are a great fit for parents who desire rigor and excellence in their child's education.
"Our school day is structured around teacher-led direct instruction where we make the most of every educational minute. At ACCA, we believe in knowledge-centered education where the teacher is the leader of classroom instruction," she said.
"You will not find cooperative learning centers or student pods in our classrooms or observe project-based, child directed instruction taking place," she added. "Desks face the front of the room, and our students show their respect for teachers by standing when they answer questions or address their teachers."
The school is already accepting applications for grades K-6 for the 2019-2020 school year and will hold its first parent information meeting on March 30. It's one of three new charter schools opening in Osceola County in the fall.