MPS board vote approves LIFE Academy charter

Updated: Mar. 10, 2020 at 9:44 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A decision from the Montgomery Public School Board Tuesday was a big step in making a new charter school a reality in Montgomery.

LIFE Academy, the second charter school in the Capital City, had to get approval from the board before they can take the next steps in the school’s development. Tuesday the board voted of 5-2 in favor of approving the school’s charter.

“We are so grateful to the school board for trusting in us, believing in us, and believing that we will take care of the number one asset which is the future of our city and that is our children,” said LIFE Academy Board Chair Norma Chism.

The majority of MPS shares the shame excitement about the new school.

“I am really excited about their charter because they are targeting children that are in some maybe challenging neighborhoods,” said MPS Board Member Jannah Bailey. “So they are already gonna target those that may be having behavioral issues and neighborhoods issues, grades, so I think it’s a great thing.”

LIFE Academy says they will add grades each year until K-8th grade is achieved. For the school’s opening, they will start with K-2nd grade. 290 students total for year one.

“We’re not in a rush, we know this is a slow grow, this is a long game,” said LIFE Academy Executive Director Kia Debnam. “So K-1 and 2 and then we will grow out one year each year until about Fifth-grade when we will start to bring in our Sixth-graders so that they are ready for middle school.”

The school will be housed at the historic Saint Jude Church on West Fairview Avenue, a location they say will make history.

“We look at the role Saint Jude played in the civil rights movement and we look at our current civil rights movement, we look at it as this is the land that our ancestors bled on, and now here we are creating and growing children on it,” said Debnam.

The expected start date for LIFE Academy is Fall 2021. They said they have not closed on the building yet, but when they do it will be remodeled.

“As we close on this building, we will get the architect and get the right people in there to repair this building,” said Chism. “It is just as beautiful as it was the day it opened in 1946, and all we are going in there to do is restore some things.”

With a focus on community, they hope to create jobs for people who have a passion for teaching.

“Luckily by charter law, teachers don’t have to be certified, but with that in mind, we are building a pathway so that any teacher who comes to us not certified gets enrolled in a program, and gains their certification in the first three years of working with us,” said Debnam.

LIFE Academy said they will start hiring teachers in January 2021. Parents that are interested in enrolling their children can go to the LIFE Academy website.

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