FAIRBANKS — A new K-8 charter school is in the works for North Pole, and, if all goes well, it will open in fall 2019.
Organizers of Discovery Peak Charter School are looking to cap class sizes at 22 students and offer opportunities for physical fitness throughout the day along with a “learn-by-doing curriculum,” according to the charter school application.
“The mission of Discovery Peak is to develop intellectually curious and capable young people who aspire to be ethical and compassionate leaders in their community,” the application states.
A group of educators and parents is behind the endeavor, which is pending approval by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education as well as the statewide school board.
The location of the proposed school is also pending.
North Pole currently has no charter school for students below the sixth grade, while Fairbanks has four K-8 “schools of choice” — a magnet school and three charter schools, Chinook, Boreal Sun and Watershed.
“Our biggest dilemma is there is not a facility in North Pole large enough,” said Sandra Boyle, an elementary school teacher for 22 years and a leader in the effort to start the charter school.
The school plan is based on Boyle’s dream school, which she created in graduate school.
At Discovery Peak, students will begin their day with 15 minutes of coordinated physical activity, such as aerobics, dance, laps or cooperative games.
Recess will happen twice daily, in the mornings and at lunchtime.
“Between each block of academics, Discovery Peak will have built-in, school-wide brain breaks,” according to the charter school application.
The brain breaks could unfold at exercise stations offering options such as calisthenics, yoga or deep breathing.
On academics, students will work on state and school district standards for math and language arts in the mornings, according to Boyle. In the afternoons, students will choose from elective classes based on the school district curriculum for science and social studies.
“Explorations in the afternoon would be multiage, with primary and intermediate students choosing between offered explorations that are geared toward their level,” the charter school application states.
On Fridays, school will get out early, at 1 p.m., allowing teachers time for preparatory work and professional development.
The school is looking to enroll 198 students with one class and one teacher per grade level. Kindergarten will be full-day with a teacher aide, while three “roving” teacher aides will assist with the higher grades, the application states.
The organizers are looking for a building that will allow them to flow from academics to physical activity naturally. They want an indoor walking track, common areas and a foyer with seating, according to the application.
Planning of the school started in 2014, and an application has been submitted to make it a federally recognized nonprofit organization.
If the school gets approval, a lottery will be held for selecting students.
The school is projected to cost $2 million a year, including staff salaries and benefits for 10 teachers and five support staff along with rent, utilities and supplies.
A spike in students in the North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base area is expected in the coming years in connection with a buildup at the base.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.