Smyrna Academy of Excellence Charter School, rejected by Cobb school board, headed to state for funding

The group pushing to start the Smyrna Academy of Excellence charter school, which was rejected by the Cobb County School Board, is taking its petition for funding to the state next week, hoping to cash in on a new state law.

The group proposed to build the charter school as the anchor tenant in a development planned for the 48-acre cleared tract near the corner of Windy Hill Road and South Cobb Drive, a site that was Hickory Lakes Apartments and is now owned by the city of Smyrna.

But that new development, with Renova Partners as the master planner, fell through and the city is looking for another developer for the site, Smyrna Redevelopment Coordinator Andrea Hall said Friday.

The Cobb School Board rejected the charter over concerns about its financing. Jimmy Arispe, one of the parents who has been pushing for the charter school, said Friday that Louis Erste, the charter schools division director at Georgia Department of Education, told the group it could petition the state for funding under HB 797, signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal in May.

Arispe said the school could be eligible for as much as $7,000 per student in funding. Its proposal to the Cobb Board was based on $5,900 per student. If the petition moves forward the group will have an interview with the state board in August about its bid. It has retained McCay Kinchin & Associates of Marietta to purchase a building, convert it and lease it back to the school.