Fledgling Kingsland Charter School sees spike in enrollment

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

KINGSLAND — The list of potential pupils is growing as organizers of the new Kingsland Charter School opened enrollment for the tuition-free institution for kindergarten through eighth grade.

“They’re planning on opening this fall,” said Zane Lewis, pastor of The Hill Church in Kingsland.

Church officials are leasing two buildings, 136 Real St. in Kingsland, to Orenda Education — a nonprofit Georgetown-based entity handling the curriculum, teacher hirings and operations of the charter school.

The entity was founded in 1995 and has schools in Belton (opening in August), Georgetown and Goldthwaite.

For more on Orenda, go to orendaeducation.org

At the Kingsland facility, local support has boosted applicants in a few short months.

“Enrollment is upwards of almost 80 (applicants),” Lewis said.

School officials are accepting as many as 150.

Facilities for the program include the church sanctuary for the auditorium and another building on the property to serve as a cafeteria and media room.

Liaisons with church and Orenda Education have proposed an eight-room classroom facility with a groundbreaking sometime in April.

Should the deadline approach for the launch of the upcoming school year before all the construction is completed, officials propose using a set of portable classrooms, Lewis said.

Orenda’s program emphasizes college readiness, technology-based learning and individualized learning plans, according to the organization’s biography.

Orenda lists its operating budget as $12 million.

“The school is tuition-free. They do receive funds from the state,” Lewis said of the Kingsland charter school. “They don’t receive as much as the local (school district).”

Kingsland students primarily attend Llano Independent School District, but several attend Marble Falls and Burnet public schools as well.

“(Charter schools) receive less (state funding), so there will be some fundraising,” he added.

The fundraising arm of the charter school effort is a 501C-3 tax-deductible entity, Lewis said.

Supporters are soliciting donations and funding for a football field and renovations to a basketball court on the site as well.

The Lakers will be the school mascot to reflect the community’s proximity to Lake LBJ.

Orenda officials have started the hiring process of accredited teachers, who are expected to be on board by the end of the summer.

“We believe that this will service the Highland Lakes in the way it’s been needed,” Lewis said. “People are excited about the opportunity to have privatized education with free tuition.”

Applications will be taken through the end of March.

To register, go to kingslandschooltx.org and fill out an application for pre-approval.

“If you go ahead and register, you get a slot. It’s first come, first served and then a lottery system,” he said. “The charter schools are a school of choice, so they have open enrollment.

“Because they are in Llano County, Llano County students get a first crack at it,” Lewis said.

connie@thepicayune.com

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