FORT WAYNE – Although they just finalized a location this week, organizers of the Smith Academy for Excellence say they are ready to start school on Monday.
Board members of the all-boys charter school approved a lease Thursday to house their school at St. John Lutheran School on West Washington Boulevard. The Timothy L. Johnson Academy, the charter school which used the building last year, is renting out the space.
School founder and Principal Thomas Smith said the one-year-lease would be $7,300 a month and would include custodial services. He said the building would not be the school’s permanent location, and that he would continue to explore opportunities to move to the southeast side of town.
St. John Lutheran Church closed St. John Lutheran School in 2010 as a result of financial constraints.
To date, Smith said, the school has 74 kids enrolled, though he expects six to enroll today. Due to the delay in narrowing down a location, he said some families decided to enroll their children elsewhere. But he said most parents wanted to stick with the school anyway.
It has been quite an interesting undertaking, he said. But it’s been great to have so many families who are so excited about the school.
Smith said he has 11 staff members hired, including eight licensed teachers.
In March, Grace College granted a seven-year charter to Smith, former Wayne High School principal, and his two sons, who wanted to start an all-boys school on the city’s southeast side.
The Smiths said the school – one of two new all-boys charter schools in the state – will emphasize college preparation, character education and service learning while giving students exposure to sports.
Originally, the Smiths wanted to build a school at Paulding and Hessen Cassel roads. That fell through when the seller changed plans. The group had been struggling to pinpoint a location since.