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Tallahassee Classical School, Now Accepting Applicants For 2020, Set To Get $680K Federal Grant

Ryan Dailey

Tallahassee Classical School, the Leon school district’s newest charter set to open in August, is now accepting applicants. This is the second go-round for the school, after its inaugural start date was pushed back.

The school’s leadership originally planned for it to open at the start of this school year in a temporary facility, but were unable to do so. Now, principal and co-founder Adrienne Campbell says the school is on track for an August opening. The open enrollment period lasts through January 16.

“If the number of applications exceeds the school’s capacity, then we will be holding a lottery, which will be held on January 17,” Campbell said.

The school will begin as a K-8 campus in its first year, with capacity set at 504 students, and add grade levels each year until it is K-12. After the delay in opening was announced, some parents took to social media expressing concerns about “fees” paid when they registered.

Campbell says the $95 fee collected was mistaken for an application fee – which is illegal for public charters, or any public school to collect. Campbell says it was a voluntary “program enhancement fee” to go toward “classroom supplies and consumables” that students will use – and that no applicants were turned away if they didn’t want to pay. She says all families who asked for refunds after paying the fee initially have been refunded.

When it opens for next school year, Tallahassee Classical will make five charters in the Leon school district.

“We are going to be moving at a lightning pace in order to put up a facility,” Campbell said, “which we have no worries about getting that up for August.”

Tuesday night, the school board will consider signing off on $689,000 in federal grant money going to Tallahassee Classical from the U.S. Department of Education. A description of the grant says it’s for financial “assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation” of startup charter schools.

“It is a reimbursement grant – so we submit our expenditures to them, and we budget for them and let them know what we are spending that money on. And the federal government gives us guidelines as to what we can and can’t spend that money on,” Campbell said.

The school has also named its main access road, Artemis Way, which will connect Tram Road and Capital Circle. The school paid for the road’s construction, but the City of Tallahassee will own and maintain it.

“We received our permanent address, it’s 4141 Artemis Way,” Campbell told WFSU. “So, we’re really excited about that, because Artemis is our mascot. She’s the goddess of the hunt, and she’s the protector of children. She’s depicted with a bow and arrow, and we’re the Archers.”

Tallahassee Classical filed with the district to open back in early 2018. After an initial rejection by the school board, its founders, Campbell and Jana Sayler, successfully appealed to the State Department of Education.

The school had taken criticism for listing Anne Corcoran, wife of state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, as a board member. Corcoran is no longer with the board, as of earlier this year.

The school is holding a groundbreaking ceremony at its new campus Tuesday afternoon.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.