By Luther Houle
Highlights of the March Flint Neighborhoods United (FNU) meeting included a presentation by Eric Lieske of the Flint Cultural Center Academy (FCCA) a $500 contest from the Traffic Taming Taskforce, and various upcoming events for the month of March. More than 40 of Flint’s community leaders, volunteers, and officials met at the Flint Public Library the morning of Saturday, March 2, to join the discussion.
FCC Academy details revealed; applications open through April 26
Lieske, chief operating officer of the Flint Cultural Center Academy, gave a 35-minute presentation regarding the new charter school, under construction at the corner of Chavez and Robert T. Longway Boulevard. Lieske explained how parents can apply to the school, and what it will offer. Applications are open now through Apr. 26.
“I have not been a huge proponent of charter schools in the past,” said Lieske, who came to the FCCA after nine years as superintendent of the Davison Schools. “This school is different.”
He explained the FCC Academy is a non-profit public charter school. This means it’s open to any student in the state of Michigan, at no cost. It will have classes K-5th grade for a total of 300-400 children in the 2019-2020 school year.
Listeners brought up concern that Flint children will not receive preferred admission into the academy. Lieske explained applications, in fact, will be accepted on a blind lottery, meaning every child who applies will have an equal chance to join the FCC Academy regardless of location, financial background, or special needs.
Parents can find out more information and submit applications from home at fccacademy.org, or in person at the Flint Public Library, 1026 E Kearsley St.
“We’ve had interest from as far north as Mt. Pleasant down to Clarkston,” Lieske said. The school is also still in the process of securing bus transportation. Still, Lieske encouraged parents to apply, even if transportation is not guaranteed yet. If accepted, families can still choose not to enroll their child.
The FCC Academy is one of three Microsoft Flagship Schools in the U.S. and 21 worldwide. The Microsoft Flagship Program connects developing schools with resources from around the world to help shape educational practices.
It also has adopted EL Education, a curriculum already used by Detroit schools, characterized by a three-part focus on mastery of knowledge and skills, building character, and high-quality student work.
According to Lieske, the curriculum will focus on building curiosity and civic responsibility in children instead of working toward standardized test scores. “We’ve spent too much time focusing on standardized assessments… The standardized test scores will increase, but we’re not going to spend our time focused on a test that 10-year-olds take over the course of a week in April.,” he said.
Cultural Center facilities central to FCC curriculum
Lieske explained how the FCC Academy will take advantage of its surrounding resources in the Flint Cultural Center. It will not hire an art teacher. Instead, children will visit the Flint Institute of Arts twice a week for arts instruction. Likewise, children will travel to the Flint Institute of Music for lessons in voice, recorder, violin, winds, percussion, piano, and full orchestra.
For an average of 90 minutes per day, students will visit these locations along with the Flint Public Library, Longway Planetarium, The Whiting, Sloan Museum, Applewood Estate, and the Flint Repertory Theatre. According to Lieske, this is all to have children engage with their community and develop a curiosity for the world.
Once completed, the school will total 78,000 square feet. A two-story aluminum-paneled entranceway will point toward Longway Boulevard. Inside, a 22-foot wide staircase, dubbed the “learning stairs” will serve as an informal gathering space where children can meet and have discussions outside the classroom as a mini-auditorium.
Two of the stairways will be connected to the Flint Institute of Music and Sloan Museum, so children and guests may visit them without leaving the building. It will also have 27 classrooms along with a gymnasium and cafeteria. Outside, children will share one playground on the northwest side of the building near Chavez Drive, with an additional open green space on the east side.
PFAS Town Hall Meeting
In other FNU business, State Representative John Cherry announced he and several other state representatives will hold a PFAS Town Hall at Mott Community College Regional Technology Center Auditorium, 1401 E. Court St. on March 8, 6 – 8 p.m. Discussion will cover what threats PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) pose, as well as what residents can do to protect their families.
King Avenue Plus
Michael Lawlor with the City of Flint announced King Avenue PLUS, an initiative to redesign the MLK business district. Open meetings will be held 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. and 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. March 14 at the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, 3216 M.L.King Ave. where residents can discuss and help design the redevelopment plan.
Traffic Taming Taskforce
Kate Cole introduced of FNU’s Traffic Taming Taskforce introduced the “Name the Campaign” contest to come up with a new slogan to fight speeding traffic. Entrants can submit their slogan to flintneighborhoodsunited.org, with the chance to win a $500 prize when the winner is selected after March 31st.
Lynn Williams of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint announced the upcoming Flint Neighborhood Summit, which will be held on Saturday, Mar. 16, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. All residents are invited to join and learn about community resources and network with different neighborhood organizations.
EVM staff writer Luther Houle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.