Home News Local News Charter school expansion to wait until 2020

Charter school expansion to wait until 2020

Sidney Gutierrez Middle School Governing Council officer Yasine Armstrong and Principal Joe Andreis discuss expansion plans with Roswell Independent School District board members in November. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Sidney Gutierrez Middle School administrators and board members have decided that its planned kindergarten to fifth grade expansion will wait until fall 2020 as they continue fundraising efforts and a search for facilities.

“We did want everyone to know that we are moving forward. We are excited about it, but we are looking at opening the doors for the K-5 next fall,” said Yasine Armstrong, vice president of the school’s governing council.

Earlier during the academic year, board members and Principal Joe Andreis had given some thought to starting kindergarten through second grade enrollment at the city’s only public charter school in fall 2019, and then introducing grades third through fifth in subsequent years.

The school did receive approval for its expansion from its authorizing entity, the Roswell Independent School District Board of Education, in November.

Armstrong said the decision was made to delay expansion one year as board members and school officials continue to work with state agencies and community members on its expansion efforts, including searching for additional classroom and instructional space.

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“We have narrowed it down to some good options,” she said. “I can’t publicly say because we don’t have anything signed yet.”

Because charter schools are not eligible for state funding until about 40 days after students are in class, Sidney Gutierrez leaders are working with the nonprofit SGMS Foundation to raise at least $100,000.

“Money is going to be needed for multiple things. Facilities is definitely a big one,” said Jacque Miller, president of the foundation. “But you also have curriculum, classroom supplies and a lot of other things. You get funding per student but that funding doesn’t kick in until the school year starts.”

Miller said she and other foundation board members and donors have already raised about half the goal.

“We have reached out to local organizations for grants,” she said. “We did an annual appeal last year and had success with that, and we are planning a large fundraiser in the fall.”

Sidney Gutierrez is the only school in Roswell to receive “A” ratings from the state each year since the rating system was established in 2011. In announcing its expansion plans, board members said that part of the mission of charters is to increase opportunities for high-quality schooling to youth in the area.

“Sidney is proud to continue to provide an excellent educational option in our community,” said Andreis, “and I am excited that the expansion is moving forward.”

The elementary school has been authorized for 130 students, 20 in kindergarten and 22 in other grades. The middle school has a maximum enrollment of 66, unless granted exceptions to that limit to accommodate siblings or other pressing needs.

As a public charter, attendance is free and any eligible student in Roswell is able to apply. Students are selected for available spots by a lottery held each spring.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.