One of the first public community schools to open in Ohio will be
the Albert Einstein Academy in Westlake.
The school, which is housed on property owned by the Church on the Rise on Crocker Road—but it is not affiliated with the church—will open next month for students in 7-12 grade.
Unlike charter schools, the academy is a not-for profit public, non-denominational school and must follow all ruled of public schools including teacher credentials and state requirements for students.
“We’re a school of choice; we have high academic expectations,” Superintendent Dr. Bruce Thomas said. “This is not a charter school.”
Community schools are gaining popularity in California where they are performing well.
Anyone student in the state of Ohio can attend Albert Einstein Academy, although enrollment is limited to 225. Thomas said the school, which currently has 10 classrooms, will maintain a 1 to 15/16 teacher/student ratio and maintain an 8 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. class schedule.
Although the school does not have an area of specialty, he said it has become popular with students in performing arts, theater and dance and has been drawing heavily from the Avon and Avon Lake area, including Zoey Viancourt featured in Avon-Avon Lake Patch last month.
“Taking on this performance arts feel, if you will,” Thomas said. “We have a very strong performing arts director, Danielle Kimble.” He noted they school has also purchased a very rigorous digital curriculum so students are college ready. Students will be required to take a foreign language class every year.
The school will accept special needs students, including those with autism and Asperger’s syndrome who will have individual learning plans.
The school is hosting a barbecue tonight. On Wednesday, July 31, it is hosting a 7 p.m. master dance class with Kimble that is open to the public.
Public school, private feel
The school is sponsored by the North Central Ohio Education Service Center who decided to open a community school in Ohio.
As a public school, it will remain tuition free, and must follow the same public school standards set by the state. The school will offer sports and clubs, similar to other public school districts, Thomas said.
“If the cost to educate a child in Avon or Avon Lake is $5,700, that money will not go to the (Avon or Avon Lake) school district, it will go here,” Thomas said.
Avon Superintendent of Schools Mike Laub confirmed Avon's cost is approximately $5,700 per student.
And although a public school, community schools do have options that public schools don’t.
“If a kid is caught with drugs, he or she will go away,” Thomas said that the school will have the option to expel the student who will then go back to their home district. “There’s no bullying, no fighting. Every classroom has a security camera in it. Our teachers do not have a labor contract.
"It is a public school with a private school feel."
The school year will mimic that of Westlake School District’s 180-calendar day year with two weeks off at Christmas and one for spring break. Whether students can be bused to the school depends on the home district’s busing rules and potential students should check with their districts.
Thomas has spent 32 years in public education and is a
retired superintendent from the Warren City School District. He was also a
superintendent with the Marietta School District and was a regional superintendent
of Cleveland Metropolitan Schools for one year. Previously he was school-
improvement coordinator with the Ohio Department of Education.
For more information, visit the school's website.