Less than a week after the Baltimore-based Children's Guild started construction on a new school in Anne Arundel County scheduled to open in August, the nonprofit received formal approval from the county Board of Education to move forward with plans for yet another school that could open in two years.
At its Wednesday meeting, the board approved a contract for the Monarch Academy Public Charter School, Central Campus, at a site to be determined. The school board had voted in July to build the new charter school.
Board members approved a five-year deal outlining parameters for the school, which officials say is part of efforts to increase educational options for residents. Currently, the Children's Guild operates Monarch Academy Public Charter School in Glen Burnie.
The move comes as the Children's Guild broke ground Aug. 4 on Monarch Global Academy Public Contract School in Maryland City, which is scheduled to open in August 2014 and will include a special international studies curriculum. As a contract school, Monarch Academy is expected to draw students in kindergarten through the fifth grade, and ultimately serve students through grade eight.
When it approved the Children's Guild to operate the school last year, the board said it contracted with Monarch Academy to recruit students from Maryland City, Brock Bridge and Jessup elementary schools, primarily to help ease overcrowding at those schools.
That school will open with an estimated 474 students, and is slated to ultimately have a 730-student enrollment by the time the eighth-grade class is added, Monarch officials said.
Monarch academies are tuition-free public schools. On its website, Monarch officials say the application period for the Global Academy Contract School began Oct. 1.
"They've done very well in handling their first school, where they have a lot of demand," said Anne Arundel County school board President Teresa Milio Birge. "So we're looking forward to them opening a second one.
When all three schools are up and running, the Children's Guild will have two charter schools and one contract school under its wings. County schools officials said that by state law, charter schools are open to all students countywide and are selected by lottery. Contract schools, on the other hand, are open by lottery to students from a targeted or prescribed geographic area within the county.
Board members said demand exists to place the second charter school in a location accessible to more areas of the county.
"Parents are going to be looking forward to having another option, especially for people who live further south in the county," Birge said.
She said the existing Monarch school in Glen Burnie is "about as north as you can get, and there are a lot of people traveling a long distance to get there. This will alleviate a lot of pressure on that one."
Based on Wednesday's vote, the Monarch Academy Public Charter School, Central Campus is set to open in the fall of 2015.
Ross said the next step is to determine a school site. He said he anticipates interest in the school to parallel that of the Glen Burnie campus, which already serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
"We've had 800 applicants for 140 seats in our existing charter school in Glen Burnie," Ross said. "This well help provide other children and families in the county [a chance] to really attend a Monarch Charter school, because it's something there seems to be a lot of interest in."
Andrew Ross, president and CEO of the Children's Guild Institute, said construction equipment is already visible at the Maryland City site on Brock Bridge Road. A formal groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 4.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun