PRATTVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Charter School Commission has approved a new school, Ivy Classical Academy, but leaders are still working to find a location in Prattville ahead of its planned August 2022 opening.
Ivy Classical will suggest two property options. One would be to build on some private land inside the city limits, though details on location or costs have not been disclosed.
The other would be to purchase and renovate four vacant buildings in the existing High Point Town Center, costing around $22.8 million.
The school is hoping for their location to be at High Point Town Center. The 230,000-sqaure feet of empty retail space has been sitting unoccupied since 2008.
Members of Ivy Classical will make a presentation during a work session of the Prattville City Council Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. During the presentation, the school will discuss its proposal to have the city purchase the property where the school will be located.
School leaders say if the city chooses the High Point Town Center option it would benefit the city because it will fill up empty shopping spaces.
“What we are asking from the city of Prattville is to partner with us in acquiring a bond to acquire and renovate and repurpose this facility that has been here for 13 years,” said Ivy Classical Academy Board Chairmen Bradley Neave.
“A school of this magnitude, if we were to rebuild it, would cost an excessive 75 million dollars and so this is an opportunity for the city council and for the city of Prattville to make a financially prudent partnership with Ivy Classical and provide a world class campus not only to families today but to families for many, many generations down the road,” Neave went on to say.
Ivy Classical Academy is an open-enrollment, tuition-free, public school. It uses the Barney Charter School Initiative from Hillsdale College in Michigan.
According to Hillside College, classical education is based on the Trivium, the three stages of learning every child experience as they grow. The three stages represented in the Trivium are Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric.
“There is a misunderstanding that because we are a charter school, we must be offering some kind of new education when what we are really offering is a return to a form of education that we know from past experience works, the kind of education that our grandparents had,” said Dean of School Melissa Bell.
School leaders said Ivy Classical will offer families in the community another public-school option, an option they say is needed in the community.
“The main reason why we are excited about this is that we are addressing the growing concern of the lack of quality public education not just in Autauga County, but in the River Region and the best way to address those concerns is school choice,” Neave said.
“We don’t have a whole lot of choices with school systems, you have public school, or you have private school,” said Ivy Classical Academy Board Member Teresa Nettles. “The charter school will give them an opportunity to make that choice and have that opportunity without thinking about finance.”
School leaders say more than 700 students from 450 families have pre-enrolled.
Ivy Classical will be offering a K-6 education the first year they open with plans to add on a grade level each year.
“This is not a school for the select few,” Neave said. “If High Point becomes a reality our initial enrollment will be closer to 1,000 and so ultimately the seats are offered primarily to Autauga County students, if there is any vacancy it is opened up to the entire state.”
Neave said who attends the school will be done on a lottery system, meaning they do not get to choose the students who attend.