State OKs opening of school
All-girls charter school to launch in Gwinnett

NORCROSS - After the Gwinnett County Board of Education denied her request to open an all-girls charter school, Nina Gilbert vowed she would not put her proposal away.

Gilbert submitted her request last year to the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education unanimously agreed this week to allow Ivy Preparatory Academy to open this year.

"We were thrilled," said Gilbert, the lead founder of the school. "They presented us with our charter and our obligation - our obligation to prove we can successfully serve a population of students who otherwise may not be able to achieve at a traditional school."

The school will offer extended days, an extended school year, double math and language arts classes, as well as an environment that is free from social distractions, Gilbert said.

State school board member Jose Perez said Gilbert submitted a good application that was very thorough and seemed to have a good backing.

"Now the hard work begins to make it happen," he said.

Because the school was approved by the state school board, it will not receive any local tax dollars. Department of Education officials said the amount of funding the school receives depends on the makeup of the students who are enrolled, because English language learners and students with disabilities get more state tax dollars.

Although a location for the school has not been secured, Gilbert said the school is making progress in finding a site in Norcross or Lilburn.

The school's calendar has not been finalized, but Gilbert said classes will begin in August. Applications are being accepted for girls who are currently in fifth grade. More information is available online at www.ivyprepacademy.org.

Gilbert said the school will open with 120 students. If more students apply, the school will hold a lottery on March 31 to determine who will attend the school.

Some information sessions have also been scheduled for parents as follows:

· 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Lawrenceville Boys and Girls Club, 382 Stone Mountain St., Lawrenceville

· 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at the A. Worley Brown Boys and Girls Club, 5360 Old Norcross Road, Norcross

· 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Norcross City Hall, 65 Lawrenceville St., Norcross

· 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Salem Missionary Baptist Church, 4700 Church St. N.W., Lilburn