Brooks charter school petitions for shorter calendar

Brooks charter school petitions for shorter calendar

A preference by Liberty Tech Charter School eighth graders on where they will attend high school led to the school petitioning the state to abandon the 210-day school year in favor of a 187-day calendar beginning in the summer.

Liberty Tech in Brooks is a state-chartered public school that opened last year and features a blending of classical learning and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). With twice as many students applying as there were seats available, one of the draws was the 210-day school year rather than the customary 180-day school calendar, an extra month of school days.

Principal Mike Stewart said a recent survey of eighth graders essentially led to the school petitioning the state to have the coming school year revert to a 187-day schedule.

Liberty Tech today has 276 students in grades 3-8 with 420 students next year in grades K-8. The school next year was also supposed to have a ninth grade class for those about to begin high school. But the survey of eighth graders showed that half said they would be going to the county’s other high schools, largely to participate in extra-curricular activities that Liberty Tech cannot yet offer.

“We couldn’t start (ninth grade) with half the enrollment,” said Stewart.

Witnessing the preference that unfolded, Stewart said the school surveyed parents to gauge their input on how the schedules of rising high schoolers would work on a 180-day schedule, with their other children in the lower grades at Liberty Tech.

“About 30 percent of our parents wanted to keep the 210-day schedule, but approximately 70 percent of parents said they wanted a reduction in the calendar days,” said Stewart.

Liberty Tech expects to hear from the state in late April about the request to decrease the number of school days to 187. If approved, the new calendar will not impact the three-semester system nor will it impact the curriculum, said Stewart.

What the change will do is put the school closer on track with Fayette’s high schools.

“If it hadn’t been for high school we wouldn’t have had to change the calendar. But high school at Liberty Tech for the future is not off the table. We have a high school plan, and partners, ready to go,” Stewart said.