MAC Update – Opening Date
I am writing to give you a status update on the Midlands Arts Conservatory (MAC). As you know we have taken some important steps towards the opening of the school.
We have had several public meetings, our enrollment is on target, there have been fantastic additions to our Planning Committee, and our sub-committees have engaged in detailed discussions about the curriculum. We received a $450,000 P and I (Planning and Implementation) grant, our loan package is proceeding, and the 501(c)3 status is in process. We have had 3,000 visits to our website (up 500% recently), 14,500 individuals have been reached through Facebook, and we have had numerous radio news spots, print ads and interview requests. Our job description for school leader (principal) on the web has generated several applicants without us having even advertised the positions.
However, we have faced a problem in that we have not been able to find an appropriate facility that meets the approval of the SC Department of Education Transportation and Facility specialists. We have looked at about 30 different possible sites, and in the last few weeks we came close to signing a lease, but the facility was ultimately denied by the SCDE. We thought that this facility would have been great, but apparently the traffic flow was not good at that intersection. Part of our problem in searching for the right facility is that MAC needs a larger amount of space than most first-year charter schools (because of the need for performance spaces and art-specific facility requirements) as well as the need for quality spaces such as a proper dance floor and acoustically secure rooms.
As a result, we have requested the SCPCSD (SC Public Charter School District) to grant us an extension on our Charter to enable us to open MAC in August 2018 instead of this year. We feel that we will be able to locate a good facility with the extended timeframe. In addition, we feel that we will be in a better position with regard to recruitment of faculty, staff and students, and we will be able to better plan for the opening year. J Britt, our Project Director, made a presentation to the SCPCSD last week, and they fully support our decision to move our opening date to August 2018.
All subsequent dates (enrollment deadlines, etc.) will shift as well. We will resume taking applications soon for the 2018 school year. More details will be shared with you regarding enrollment in the coming weeks.
Our MAC Planning Committee will continue to meet, and I would like to thank them all for their time and energy. They are a fantastic group of artists, educators, business-people, and parents, and I have been thrilled to work with them and to get to know them individually. Thanks to:
Catharine Aitken, John Barnes,
I would also like to thank J Britt for all the work he has done for MAC. He is truly fantastic, and we are indebted to him for bringing our school closer to reality.
I will keep you posted over the next few months, as we continue our search for the right facility and refine the curriculum. Please stay in touch with us, and do take a look at our website from time-to-time for updates. Please also help to “spread the word” about MAC, and our anticipated opening next year in August 2018. We are committed to creating a first-class arts-focused public school for the Midlands.
Dr. Robert Jesselson
Carolina Distinguished Professor
2013 Governor’s Professor of the Year
University of South Carolina