Plans for charter school in Hephzibah moving forward

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News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, September 9th, 2013


HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- The plans are in place, location picked out and buildings designed for a potential new charter school in Hephzibah.

"I think it's a great idea," said Hephzibah resident Joyce Lassiter. For her it's too late, since her kids are grown, but for many other families it's coming right on time.

"The charter schools are working and they're working all over the country," said City Commission Chairman Robert Buchowitz.

The Richmond County Board of Education has yet to take up the issue, but the group pushing for it continues to develop their plan.

At Monday's city commission meeting the group unveiled architectural designs for the Hephzibah Charter School.

"It's exactly what we envisioned," said Buchowitz.

They've looked at many potential sites all over Hephzibah, but as of Monday night they've decided on a 50 acre piece of land at the corner of Fulcher Rd and Storey's Mill Rd. The campus would have a elementary and middle school with 37 classrooms and eventually a high school and an athletic complex.

After months of planning Buchowitz will go before the State Charter Commission in Atlanta Tuesday.

"We feel pretty confident that we'll be given the opportunity to provide that for the citizens," he said.

It's the first local test since Amendment one passed last November, giving the state and not the local school board the final decision on Charter Schools.

"Richmond county has some good schools, but there is a need to offer that choice so people want to migrate to Richmond county and raise their children," explained Buchowitz.

He says that need is apparent in Hephzibah, "I don't know that we really prepare our children to go to college. We do if they go to Davidson or Johnson, but it's so far away from us out here."

The Richmond County Board of Education should make a decision soon. The charter group says they received notice from Richmond County that a letter is on it's way, but they say they don't expect approval from local board, nor do they need it.

The State Charter Commission will make it's decisions at the end of October.

Best case scenario if they receive approval they are hoping to start construction July 2014 and open for the 2015 school year as a K-8. They would then plan to add the high school by 2018.

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