Cumberland Academy Seeks To Add Seventh, Eighth Grades
By EMILY GUEVARA
A Tyler charter school is looking to expand but is waiting for the go-ahead from the state.
Cumberland Academy Principal James Moyers said the school has submitted a request for expansion to the Texas Education Agency.
The academy will serve about 500 students in kindergarten through sixth grades this fall but is seeking approval to add seventh and eighth grades.
If the state gives the OK, Cumberland would add a middle school to its campus. Moyers said they would like to open the middle school for the 2013-14 school year.
In 1996, Cumberland opened as private school with 30 students. Just two years later, it opened as a charter school with 60 students.
And in 2010, after years of operating out of a renovated skating rink on South Broadway Avenue, the school moved into a new campus at 1340 Shiloh Road.
The move provided more than just a scenery change for staff and students. The campus changed its focus with a heavy emphasis on technology and the arts.
Students use a digital curriculum available on MacBook laptops at school and iPod Touch devices to take home.
When the school moved to the new location, they had 400 students. That increased to 450 and, last year, they added eight classrooms to the facility, which opened right before Thanksgiving.
Academy board president Dr. Jim Cotton said if the state approves the school's recent request for expansion they would like to purchase about seven acres of land adjacent to the existing campus and build a separate middle school facility.
He said HighMark School Development, which built the existing campus, already is working with real-estate brokers to make sure all the arrangements are in place for the land purchase.
Cotton said the decision to expand is a response to the school's parents.
"They've been very pleased with the students that they have in our school and want the opportunity to continue with this same philosophy and education process we've implemented at Cumberland Elementary School," Cotton said.
He expects if the school adds seventh and eighth grades, it would add about 600 students for the middle school, more than doubling its existing population.
The Texas Commissioner of Education must approve the school's request.
Gov. Rick Perry has yet to appoint a replacement for Commissioner Robert Scott, whose resignation was effective this month.
However, a Texas Education Agency spokeswoman said the commissioner's duties are delegated to Todd Webster, the chief deputy commissioner, at this time.