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Cherokee Charter To Use Media Center For Classroom Space

The school will transition to using classroom libraries in which grade-appropriate books and materials will be stored in classrooms.

Credit: Patch file
Credit: Patch file

Cherokee Charter Academy's plans to roll out a unique way to utilize space in its facility on Sixes Road is giving some parents heartburn.

Starting next school year, the school will transition the space currently used as its media center for classroom space. 

In turn, the school will roll out what it calls a classroom library model. 

In a letter sent to parents, Principal Dr. Scott O'Prey explains space at the facility, the former home of American Heritage Academy, "is at a premium." As such, Cherokee Charter this year has started using all classrooms, its small cafeteria and half of the media center for instructional space. 

"Many schools, both traditional public and charter, are using the classroom libraries model," he wrote. "Our sister school in Coweta County has used this model successfully for the past two years. Our plan for next year calls for transitioning to this model."

O'Prey said the school's book collection will be distributed using Lexile levels standards to classrooms, and students will be given "closer access" to books for independent and guided reading.

"This saves on transition times and allows the teachers on a grade level to swap books as needed," he added.

Additionally:

  • All middle school classes will be taught upstairs next year. 
  • All elementary classes will be downstairs. 
  • A computer lab for middle school will be placed on the second floor.
  • The current downstairs computer lab will be dedicated to elementary classes so the small cafeteria will not have to be used as instructional space.
  • With the school store moving off campus and the added classroom space from the other half of the library, the academy will be able to move the fifth-grade downstairs and meet the needs of students with disabilities.

"My staff is doing its best to be flexible and be good stewards of our space," O'Prey added.

O'Prey was not available for comment, but Charter Schools USA spokesperson Colleen Reynolds said the model has been implemented at all the company's schools and "is in fact, a trend that is spreading throughout the country."

"We have found it to be very successful for our students and have received positive feedback from parents and students alike," she added.

Charter Schools USA is Cherokee Charter Academy's parent company. 

Cherokee Charter, which has grades kindergarten through ninth, currently has 1,071 students enrolled at its Canton institution. It projects its enrollment will be 1,093 once the 2014-15 school year rolls around. It's unclear what the facility's student capacity is in the building, however. 

The decision has not been embraced by some parents. A petition has been created to encourage the school to "save" its media center.

One parent, who asked not to be identified, said the parents weren't told of the decision until Wednesday.

The reason why parents enrolled their children in Cherokee Charter Academy is they like the push for heavy parental involvement and since the school only receives state funding, "a lot of the slack is picked up by the parents," the Canton mother said.

"The whole idea behind the media center is you have an experienced media specialist who fosters the love of reading," she added. 

She also said there are some students who may read below or above their current grade level and under the new model, won't have access to books that meets their abilities. 

She also said she and other parents have been disappointed with the lack of communication, which is a "slap in the face" as many parents are heavily involved in raising money to purchase supplies and materials needed for students.

Instead of shutting parents out of the process, the school should open up a dialogue and allow the parents to help them find space, this parent stated. The school currently has a cafe area that's not regularly used, which she said could possibly be converted into a media center.

Finally, the parent said she and others have been told the school does not plan to add any more students to their ranks. If that's the case, then it doesn't make sense to take away a much-needed resource from current students. 

John May 08, 2014 at 08:32 PM
This is one of the main reasons I am pro-charter school, but anti for-profit charter school. In the for-profit model, when its $$$$ vs. kids, kids lose every time.

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