Plans to open an Arts and Science charter school in Isanti moves forward

An arts and science charter school is hoping to open in the city of Isanti in the fall.

During the Isanti City Council meeting March 18, the council approved a text amendment to allow for educational institutions within the B-2 General Business District as a conditional use.

Community Development Director Roxanne Achman explained as of January 2014, the Arts and Science Academy has received its funding and been issued a district number by the Minnesota Department of Education. The school is proposing to locate within the building at 903 Sixth Ave. Court NE, near Community Pride Bank.

Achman explained the permitting of educational institutions within the B-2 General Business District is neither fitting or unfitting with the Comprehensive Plan. She explained educational institutions tend to have an increased traffic flow, making it fitting for a commercial district. However, she added educational institutions do not help maintain a commercial atmosphere, as they are a destination versus a convenience stop.

Achman explained very little will be changing on the outside of the building, as most of the changes will be interior remodeling. She said the applicant, Carlo Galeazzi, is confident that traffic flow will not be an issue and that sufficient parking will be provided on site, and a cross-over agreement is in place with Community Pride Bank for overflow parking during events.

Galeazzi explained the charter school will open in the fall by serving kindergarten through sixth-grade for the 2014-15 school year, with seventh-grade added in 2015-16, and eighth-grade in 2016-17. He said the school will be able to serve a maximum of 240-250 students.

Isanti Mayor George Wimmer encouraged the council to approve the charter school as a conditional use so the council can review the use if there ends up being any concerns with parking, traffic, etc. Per council action, the school can only have a maximum of 260 students.

Background information provided in the council packet said the Arts and Science Academy will provide rigorous public education in science, math, technology, language arts and social studies, while integrating the visual and performing arts within each school day.

The Academy will be a free public charter school staffed with highly motivated individuals, and school leadership plans for it to work collaboratively with the District 911 Cambridge-Isanti School District. Two school buses will be used to drop off and pick up students on school days.

Students will also have an option to stay until 4 p.m. for an enrichment hour to receive extra homework help or for other enrichment activities. Students who stay until 4 p.m. will be need to be picked up by their parents.

More information on the Arts and Science Academy can be found at www.artscienceacademy.org or by emailing artandsciencecharter@gmail.com.

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