A public charter school is considering coming to Londonderry, now that a moratorium on new charter schools has been lifted. Founders Academy Foundation founder and president Thomas Frischknecht said the school originally planned to open this fall, but now is looking at a January start date. Authorization for the school was approved Thursday, July 18, by the state Board of Education.
“We know we won’t have a lot of students by starting in January,” Frischknecht said. “Many parents will have made the decision for the year and they are not going to change schools mid-year and we understand that, but we’ll be able to get started. By fall of 2014 we’ll have a more normal student body.
Frischknecht said the school plans to start with sixth and seventh graders, but will look into offering eighth grade if he receives a large number of requests to do so.
“Each charter school has a mission of what its focus will be,” he added. “The school defines its goals and sticks to that agenda. A school might be a STEM school utilizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or another may be art and music oriented. Our school’s mission will be Business, Law, Ethics and Leadership oriented,” Frischknecht said He said the mission goals are in addition to the core curriculum every public school must provide.
He noted there is a waiting list and parents can go to the Founder’s Academy web site at www.foundersacademy.org to contact school officials and to put their child’s name on the wait list.
“We will have an admissions and enrollment process, however initially, if parents want to get ahead, they can go to the web site and put their child’s name on the wait list,” Frischknecht said. “We expect to start with 30 to 40 children tops. If more than that apply, then we will have a lottery.”
He added that currently no phone is available for interested parents to call, but parents with questions will be contacted by the information they give on the web site. “There will be more informational meetings held in Londonderry and surrounding towns and we will have a booth at Londonderry’s Old Home Day,” Frischknecht added.
Frischknecht said the school has submitted an application for federal start-up grants, one of which is specifically for New Hampshire. He said about $5 million in grants is available to New Hampshire for charter school start-ups. “(Grant) money will allow us to, with stipulation on what we can use it on, get started,” Frischknecht said.
Frischknecht said the money would be used for “technology, leasing on a building, hiring contractors that will help with curriculum, and other things that will help us get going.” Funds are expected to be available within three weeks of the application. “We want to focus on the steps that have to be put in place before we deal with choosing a building location,” Frischknecht said. “I don’t want to be in a position or put anyone else in a position that we would commit to something and not be able to follow through.”
He has a building search committee in place and a company has been engaged to search for an appropriate site. Founders Academy is proposed as a public charter school. “Some people have the misconception that all charter schools are private,” he said. “In our case, being a public charter school, all students who come from the state of New Hampshire have no costs. If a student were to come from Massachusetts, then we would have the option of charging tuition, however New Hampshire students are free to the parents, just like any other public school.”