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What Does It Take to Open Atlanta School for the Arts

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

Atlanta School for the Arts is coming together. The vision of a handful of local artists, educators, and parents, is officially incorporated with non-profit status, meeting with developers to identify possibilities for a facility, and advocating for support from local decision-makers.

But what does it take to get a school like this open?

Charter schools, which have become a prevalent way for school founders to offer unique options like an arts-focused public school, have a clear path forward. Founders organize a non-profit board, outline a written plan that is submitted to their school district for approval, and then open to receive public funds to offer a program that has higher accountability in exchange for greater autonomy. And although this is a great option for communities that want a school that reflects their values or a group of founders who can offer students something different from what is available in their community school, charter is not a viable option for Atlanta School for the Arts. Atlanta Schools for the Arts will admit students based on their auditions/portfolios to vet for talent, rather than take any student chosen in a lottery. Atlanta School for the Arts' academics will be driven by a public school district and have teachers who are public school district staff. We are committed to opening a public school that leverages the expertise and infrastructure of a public school district with the supplemental support of a dedicated Foundation. So our path is not as clear as filling out an application.

In the process of developing the plan for the school, Atlanta School for the Arts founding team members have visited and reviewed other public schools for the arts, nationally, to identify an organizational structure that can sustain our programming and honor our mission. Through the experience of high-performing arts professional prep programs like ChiArts (Chicago), Baltimore School for the Arts, Booker T. Washington (Dallas), Atlanta School for the Arts has determined that a partnership between a local school district and private foundation that take joint ownership of the school ensures it can be sustained, fully funded, and effective. Atlanta School for the Arts is meeting with local policy-makers, school district leaders, and arts decision-makers to identify the right public school partner. Once that partner has agreed to move forward with the Foundation, the nuts and bolts of planning and acquiring a facility and recruiting staff can begin.

Your support of this project and vocal advocacy for arts professional prep programming in Atlanta is critical to the school's opening. Let your elected officials, school board reps, and other decision-makers and influencers in your community know that this is important to you. Through the advocacy of our city's constituents, we will move from discussion to action.

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