Arlington Citizen-Journal

New building will allow Arlington Classics Academy to start a high school

Arlington Classics Academy broke ground in May on an $8.25 million intermediate school building at its 2800 W. Arkansas Lane location. The new building will free up space at ACA’s South Bowen Road campus to begin a high school in fall 2017.
Arlington Classics Academy broke ground in May on an $8.25 million intermediate school building at its 2800 W. Arkansas Lane location. The new building will free up space at ACA’s South Bowen Road campus to begin a high school in fall 2017. Arlington Classics Academy

Arlington Classics Academy prides itself on being a place where age and grade-level don’t put a ceiling on what a child can achieve. A new construction project and plans to enroll its first high school class in 2017 mean the school won’t be limited either.

Arlington Classics, an open-enrollment charter school that began 16 years ago, broke ground in May on an $8.25 million intermediate school building at its 2800 W. Arkansas Lane location, which houses kindergarten through second grade. Third through eighth grades are housed at 5206 S. Bowen Road. When the new building is done, third, fourth and fifth grades will move there, giving the Bowen location room for high school classes.

The school plans to enroll about 100 freshman for fall 2017, adding a grade level each year thereafter, said Craig Sims, executive director of schools.

The school plans to enroll about 100 freshman for fall 2017, adding a grade level each year thereafter, said Craig Sims, executive director of schools.

“There was just a lot of interest from our parents, so we did some surveying and that’s really been the driver for it,” he said. The hope is to continue ACA’s small-school environment, with a heavy focus on academics and parental involvement, Sims said.

1,435 students in grades K-8 at Arlington Classics Academy, and a waiting list holds the names of 600 potential students.

ACA is publicly funded, although charter school advocates point out that their schools get significantly less state funds per student than large school districts. Students are selected in a lottery each spring with existing students given priority. There are about 1,435 students in grades K-8, and a waiting list holds the names of 600 potential students.

“We know we’re going to create a sort of niche high school. We’re not trying to be an all-around high school. We’re designing this high school to be college prep,” Sims said. “It will have dual-credit classes. What we’re hoping is that those students who have really valued the model they’ve seen in the middle school will continue on in the high school.”

ACA was rated exemplary under the Texas Education Agency’s previous accountability system and has “met standard,” with distinction designations attached, in the ranking system that took effect in 2012. “Met standard” replaced exemplary as the highest ranking.

ACA eighth-graders can earn up to 6  1/2 high school credits, putting them on a accelerated path to graduation. Sims said the new high school will ensure that ACA students can take full advantage of the advanced work they complete in middle school.

ACA will issue bonds to finance the new, 38,000-square-foot intermediate school building. ACA holds three main fundraisers each year to supplement its funding. During the Excel for Classics campaign, parents are asked to make monetary pledges. An annual dinner and auction and participation in the North Texas Giving Day are the two additional events.

Jenn Hilliard, incoming president of ACA’s Parent Teacher Organization, said she’s excited to see what ACA does with a high school. She’s certain that it will be something unique and academically strong. Her daughters, who are going into sixth and fourth grades, have always attended ACA, and she’s been pleased with the emphasis on responsibility, accountability, community service and parent involvement, as well as the curriculum.

My daughters want to stay at ACA. They want to graduate from ACA. My youngest said she would like to go to ACA for college. They’re very comfortable here.

Jenn Hilliard, incoming president of ACA’s Parent Teacher Organization

“It can be challenging, but I think all kids can rise up to the challenge They can do a lot more than we think they can do,” Hilliard said. Like other parents, she is looking forward to having ACA as a choice when high school rolls around for her children.

“My daughters want to stay at ACA. They want to graduate from ACA. My youngest said she would like to go to ACA for college,” Hilliard said. “They’re very comfortable here.”

Twitter: @tracipeterson

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