Four new state charter schools for metro Atlanta

The Atlanta metro area will have four new charter schools after petitioners won authorization from the State Charter Schools Commission Wednesday.

In 2019 or after, they will serve grammar school children, with two schools in Atlanta and one each in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

VIDEO: In other charter school news

Traditionally, Georgia charter schools were authorized only by local school districts, but voters changed the state constitution in 2012, creating the charter commission. It authorizes schools that either have a statewide attendance zone or “special characteristics.” Special can mean the population served, the curriculum or “features which enhance educational opportunities.”

Of the four newly approved schools, only Yi Hwang Academy, a K-5 Korean-English immersion school in Gwinnett County, will accept students across the state.

The other three schools had to describe what makes them special.

Ethos Classical Charter School recently re-applied with Atlanta Public Schools after the school board rejected an application last year. But APS did not schedule a vote this time, so Ethos went to the state. The state application says Ethos will use a curriculum based on the classics, "conceptual and procedural math" and the arts, with two teachers per classroom. The K-5 school will open in fall 2019 in southwest Atlanta, and take students from the city and from all of Fulton County.

Charter schools must perform as well (or better) than the traditional schools in their attendance zone. Emily White, the lead founder and head of school at Ethos, said nearby schools have 30 percent of students reading on grade level by third grade. Ethos will do better, she said. “That’s our promise to parents. We will work hard to make it happen.”

Harriet Tubman School of Science and Tech in west Atlanta will serve K-5 students in Atlanta, with an online component. The school's petition says it's unique because it uses "a data-driven model" with "real-time" analysis.

DeKalb County will get a design school next year serving county residents: The Community Academy for Architecture and Design will start with elementary school, expanding over time to include middle school. The school will "partner" with south DeKalb communities to develop "thriving children" and "sustainable neighborhoods," using architecture and design "as a conduit for inter-generational transformation."