Allison Ericson, Valdosta Today News Director:
VALDOSTA–Scintilla Charter Academy (SCA) received a building permit Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Valdosta City Council meeting by a 6-1 vote. The permit allows the school to build on a little less than 70 acre lot located at 2171 East Park Avenue. The request for the permit was tabled on Oct. 7 for two weeks. The SCA case was considered a land use case not a rezoning; it was a land use decision within a zoning district.
“We are one step closer to building our dream school. Ready to put our hard hats on and shovel in hand to break ground. Thank you to the city council for voting for the approval of the zoning for Scintilla Charter Academy and to the amazing support we had tonight at the meeting. We are blessed,” Julie Hiers, Scintilla Charter Academy principal said.
An important factor the council considered was that the academy met the criteria for a “Conditional Use Permit for an elementary school in a Single-Family Residential Zoning District.” One of the eight listed criteria in question was, “Adequacy of the ingress and egress to the subject property, and to all proposed buildings, structures, and uses thereon, including the traffic impact of the proposed use on the capacity and safety of public streets providing access to the subject site.”
The academy has additional plans to extend Northside Drive through the property to create a back entrance. The completion of the Northside Drive extension is predicted to be finished by year 2021. The school will use the south entrance on East Park Ave. as its main entrance.
“We have extended days from 7:30 to 4:30, so traffic will not be an issue in the afternoon because our school will be letting out later than the regular schools,” Hiers said.
The academy is public and open to all students but is geared towards the education of students from high poverty regions. The classroom sizes will be smaller than average with only 20 students per class and four teachers per grade.
“Studies show that high poverty students perform better in a school that is small and intimate,” Hiers said.
Jeremy Baker, attorney and Vice Chairman of Scintilla Charter Academy Board said, “We will follow through with our state goals and our mission. We will serve all kids in impoverished areas, no matter what their race, color, or creed, our goal is to get them the attention they need.”
SCA will have a computer registration and will not be first-come first-serve. The school has limited positions for each grade; if they exceed that limit they will result to a lottery system. Hiers plans to receive SCA’s desired student capacity, whether students register on their own or she finds them in the community herself.
“If I have to knock on 500 doors, I will knock on 500 doors. I will go into the community and so will the teachers,” Hiers said.
“Scintilla Charter Academy will be a place where teachers can teach without the red tape. Students can learn, it will be electrifying, they will be passionate,” Hiers said. “At the end of the day that’s what a parent deserves, is the right to send their child to a school that’s going to fill the needs of that child.”