Currently viewing the tag: "Sabillasville Environmental School"

After receiving the last and final approval from the Frederick County Board of Education in December 2021, Sabillasville Environmental School has been moving forward with plans to open it’s doors at the start of the 2022/23 school year at the current Sabillasville Elementary School building.

On January 23, 2022, the school opened up enrollment to all Frederick County residents in grades K-6 (7th and 8th grades will be added in the second and third years of operation).

The deadline to enroll is March 11, 2022. Seats will be filled through a lottery process being held on March 21.

For more information, visit www.sesclassical.org.

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.

Are you interested in having your child(ren) attend the newest charter school in Frederick County? Sabillasville Environmental School—A Classical Charter is now accepting Letters of Intentions to enroll students for the 2022-2023 School Year. There is no cost to attend the school if you are a Frederick County Public School resident.

The school will offer grades K-8, with K-6 being offered in the first year. The school will offer a classical curriculum with a focus on environmental science/agriculture.  Visit www.sesclassical.org to find out more information. All Letters of Intention for enrollment must be submitted by November 15, 2021

James Rada Jr.

The Frederick County Board of Education voted last month to conditionally approve the charter for the new Sabillasville Environmental School. This will give the school three more years to prove it can attract additional pupils who want to receive an agriculturally focused education.

The conditional approval depends on two things: (1) The new school can find a suitable site; and (2) It can show there are 161 students who will attend the new school by December 1.

The Sabillasville citizens’ group that put the charter proposal together plans to use the existing Sabillasville Elementary School for their new school, but this is not a given. 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 could be used for the Sabillasville Environmental School, but the board members pointed out that another charter school has also shown some interest in the site. Board President Jay Mason said the board could not guarantee the building for the Sabillasville Environmental School.

“We called all three charter schools in Frederick, and they told us they are not interested in the school because it’s too small,” said Alisha Yocum, president of Sabillasville Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization and head of the citizens’ group. “We’re not sure why suddenly this is coming up again.”

The citizens’ group had hoped the board of education would grant the school a conversion charter that would allow the elementary school to transition into the charter school. Some confusion still remains over whether state law allowing for a conversion charter would apply in this situation and who has the authority to make the decision.

The board intends to sort this out, and if it is applicable, members seemed willing to go this route, which would provide the new school with the building the citizens’ group wants.

As for reaching the school-needed-enrollment number, the citizens’ group has been working toward that. The number needs to be reached so that the school receives enough per-pupil funding to operate. With the current enrollment at less than half of the needed 161, it seemed a daunting task to reach in a short time. However, after Superintendent Teresa Alban made her recommendation of conditional approval to the board in August, the citizens’ group has been soliciting letters of intent from county parents to show they would be willing to send their children to the new school. Yocum said that as of September 18, the citizens’ group had 105 students whose parents wanted to send them to the Sabillasville Environmental School, which does not include the students currently enrolled in the elementary school. This would bring the potential enrollment in the new school to around 175 students.

“We have interest from all over,” Yocum said. “Woodsboro, Middletown, Myersville, Frederick, and Thurmont. Parents are very interested in the environmental and agricultural part of the curriculum.”

With the board’s conditional approval, the citizens of Sabillasville overcame a large hurdle toward keeping a school in their town. Now, they have to continue the momentum and meet the conditions that came with the approval.

“It’s exciting,” Yocum said. “I can’t wait for all the unique opportunities and experiences we’ll be able to provide kids.”

These individuals are some who played a vital role in supporting and planning for Sabillasville Elementary School’s future: (from left) Abbey Sparkman, Kelsey Norris, Heather Sparkman, Justus Yocum, Alisha Yocum, Bryce Yocum (in front), Robbie Koontz, Shelby Green, Barb Doney, Eli Yocum, Colleen McAfee, and Tanzy Logue.

Within a few weeks, founding group members of the Sabillasville Environmental School—A Classical Charter, will know if their hard work has paid off. Over the past year, the group wrote a charter school application as a solution for keeping a school in Sabillasville.

If approved, the public charter would operate out of the current Sabillasville Elementary School building. As a public charter, the school would be free and open to all students in K-8 who live in Frederick County.

The group is proposing a school that will teach a classical curriculum, with a focus on environmental science, which will include several hands-on learning projects, such as a green house and garden space and market days where students will apply math and business skills to sell their produce. If approved, the charter would start operation in August 2022.

On August 18, the superintendent of Frederick County will make her recommendation to the Board of Education as to whether or not they should approve the charter application. On September 10, the Board of Education will conduct a final vote on approval of the charter school application.

Founding group members are encouraging community members to email their letters of support for the school to the Board of Education prior to their final vote on September 10. Emails may be sent to board@fcps.org. For more information about the Sabillasville Environmental School, visit their Facebook page.