Posted on 04 December 2013.
Artist’s rendering shows the front of the planned charter school on NC 115.
By DAVID BORAKS
Thunderbird Preparatory Academy, a newly approved charter school that plans to focus on leadership and talent development, is seeking zoning approval to open next fall in a building that once housed a Montessori school on Old Statesville Road/NC 115 south of downtown.
Thunderbird officials said this week they hope to occupy the site for a couple of years, while they build a permanent school building in Huntersville. The school could have up to 488 students at opening in Fall 2014, and as many as 596 in Fall 2015.
Developer Oak Capital Group LLC is requesting a conditional zoning for the 4-acre site at 17609-17615 Old Statesville Road. Oak Capital plans to buy the property and lease it to the school.
The request will come before the Cornelius Planning Board Monday, Dec. 9, at 6:30pm at Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave. It’s currently scheduled for a Town Board hearing and vote on Monday, Jan. 6, at 7pm, also at Town Hall.
Thunderbird Prep won state approval for its charter this summer.
Chairman Michael Babbitt told CorneliusNews.net Wednesday the school will offer “a classical liberal arts education focusing on leadership and talent development.”
“What’s going to make our school different than all the other schools is that we truly plan on developing the talents and aptitudes that children already have,” Babbitt said. “We have the framework and the people.”
Doug Hargett and Judy Martin, both founding teachers at Lake Norman Charter School, are on Thunderbird’s board. And the school plans to use principles from the Covey Leadership training program, “the seven habits of highly effective people,” Babbitt said.
Babbitt said Thunderbird’s organizers are currently looking at an undisclosed site in Huntersville to locate a permanent campus. He said the school has the property under contract, and is currently seeking financing. If all goes according to plan, that site could open in the Fall of 2017, he said.
The school eventually hopes to serve about 920 students, according to its state charter application.
Babbitt thinks there’s plenty of room for another charter school in the Lake Norman area, and he offered his own experience as proof. “There’s definitely a demand. That’s evidenced by the length of the waiting list at any given charter school,” he said. “We applied for a couple of the schools, and our daughters were both put on the waiting lists.” One daughter was No. 330 where she applied and the other No. 267.
Plans submitted to the Town of Cornelius project that Thunderbird will have up to 488 students when it opens in Fall 2014, with 40 staff. The site plan calls for 55 parking spaces.
“We’ve done traffic studies, and we have plans on how to route traffic,” so the school won’t increase congestion on NC 115, Babbitt said.
Thunderbird charter application (PDF), on NCPublicSchools.org.
Zoning information, on the town of Cornelius website
Thunderbird Preparatory Academy website, thunderbirdprep.org