Swannanoa, NC. (August 24, 2020) – ArtSpace Charter School has many reasons to celebrate. As the 2020 school year opens, ArtSpace celebrates its 20th year, a significant accomplishment. But this year is different, and not just because of a pandemic. The K-8 school in Swannanoa is also celebrating as one of the 34 schools statewide recently awarded the ACCESS grant.
The State Board of Education this month approved the grants under an initiative of DPI’s Office of Charter Schools called Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success, or ACCESS. The program is funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
The funds are intended for new and existing high-quality charter schools to better meet the needs of traditionally underserved students – those who are economically disadvantaged, homeless, non-native English speakers, students with disabilities, immigrant students, migrant students or are or unaccompanied youth.
ArtSpace was awarded $600,000 and will use the funds to increase and support their enrollment of underserved and educationally disadvantaged students through expanding the opportunities for students; implementing weighted lotteries; enhancing transportation options; providing professional development for teachers; and increasing student access to technology and resources.
“We believe in our vision and we are committed to removing barriers for all students to access our programs. Arts integrated education, from a place of conviction and empathy, is a great social justice equalizer,” said the school’s Executive Director, Sarena Fuller. “Education is our greatest form of advocacy and this grant is invaluable as we seek to empower all our young learners.”
As this school year opens remotely for ArtSpace students, considerations on equity are at the forefront. “We recognize the critical role one’s physical and emotional health, social support system, and equitable access to basic human needs play in learning and human development. This grant will expand the possibilities to creatively meet these foundational needs and grow opportunities for resilience in all our students, families, staff, and community members,” said ArtSpace counselor, Tiffany Mead.
Charter schools are public schools of choice that are authorized by the State Board of Education. State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for charter schools, which have open enrollment and cannot discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge tuition. They must hold a lottery for seats if the school is oversubscribed. Charter schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that govern district schools, but charter schools are held accountable through the state assessment and accountability system.
ArtSpace is governed by a non-profit board. Chair, Katie Cornell, added, “As the Executive Director of the Asheville Area Arts Council and a proud parent, I firmly believe in ArtSpace’s approach to arts-integrated learning, and I am thrilled that more students will now have access to all that ArtSpace has to offer.”