James Rada Jr.
There will be a charter school in Sabillasville next year. When the Frederick County Board of Education approved the charter for the Sabillasville Elementary School in September, it came with two conditions: (1) It can show there are 161 students who will attend the new school by December 1; and (2) The new school can find a suitable site.
The enrollment has been the condition that has caused the most concern since it was the low enrollment at Sabillasville Elementary School that led to discussions about closing the school in the first place.
The enrollment target needs to be hit because funding is based on the school’s enrollment. That is the number of students needed to ensure enough funding for the school to operate properly.
The parents’ group that formed to develop the charter school has been soliciting commitment letters from county parents, stating that they will send their children to the new charter school.
“We have 164 as of right now, but more are coming in,” said Alisha Yocum, president of Sabillasville Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization and head of the citizens’ group. Interest in the new school has come from parents all over the county.
The higher the enrollment for the new school, the more per-pupil funding the school will receive. This can help the school meet its future enrollment targets and also have some surplus funds to use if issues arise during the school year. The citizen’s committee that put together the charter is also planning on applying for grants and running a fundraising campaign to help create more of a cushion in the finances.
The plan calls for the new environmentally-focused school to serve grades K-8, although it will serve only K-6 students next year. The three-year charter plan calls for additional grades to be phased in 2023 and 2024. Seventh grade will be added in the second year of the school’s operation, and eighth grade in the third year. The student:teacher ratio will be 23:1. This is where the first year target enrollment of 161 students comes from.
Enrollment will be something the charter school staff will have to watch each year.
“We will need to make sure we can fill the incoming kindergarten class with 23 students,” Yocum said. “And if anyone leaves or moves, we would hope to have a wait-list so those can be replaced as well.”
With the second condition, the Frederick County Board of Education first has to vote to close the elementary school. Once that is done, a process is started to decide what to do with the building. It is expected to be used for the charter school. Although the board of education could vote to do something else with the building, no other parties have expressed an interest in it.