Leader Blues

Friday, September 05, 2008

TOP STORY > >Another group picks campus site

By NANCY DOCKTER
Leader staff writer

Organizers for the Jacksonville Light-house Academy have selected a vacant lot on the corner of First and Willow streets as the location of the future school.

“It is a good site in many ways – open, with sewer and water. It’s zoned correctly and with good access,” Lighthouse Academy president and CEO Michael Ronan said. “It is big enough to start the school, allow for expansion and a playground, as the school develops.”

George Biggs, a Jacksonville parks official, heads the board of directors.

A developer will be hired to oversee the design and construction of the building, Ronan said. He and his team are moving ahead on multiple fronts, although the state’s granting of charters is almost two months away.

“There is plenty to do – a lot of planning, recruiting the principal and office staff, community outreach,” Ronan said.

The plan is to get a national search underway soon to hire a principal by Jan. 1. The principal will then oversee hiring of teachers via local recruitment as well as a partnership with Teach for America, a national nonprofit, community-service organization that trains and places qualified individuals in charter schools in underserved communities.

“The principal will be actively involved in screening teachers in January and February,” Ronan said.

Next summer, all teachers will attend three weeks training in the signature “art-infused” instructional methods used at other Lighthouse Academies schools.

“This will help teachers see how they can infuse art in the curriculum and align it with state standards,” Ronan said.