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Somerset Academy moving ahead with plans for new 1,700-student charter school near Pointe West


Somerset Academy has been granted tentative approval to open a new K-8 charter school that will eventually enroll 1,700 students in Indian River County, despite a long-running effort by the School Board to block the Texas-based company from opening a school here.

The new charter school will be built on a 14-acre site located at 7645 16th Manor, adjacent to the Pointe West development. No beginning construction date or projected opening has yet been announced.

The county’s technical review committee was scheduled to go over the school’s application on July 17, an initial step to make sure construction of the school adheres to county construction and building codes, said John McCoy, chief planner of current development for Indian River County.

“Somerset Academy’s plan is to build the school in three phases,” McCoy said. “The first phase will include room for up to 600 students for students K-6; the second phase, expansion for 600 seventh graders; and the third phase will add up to 500 eighth grade students.

“The committee’s job is to review the plans for the school,” McCoy said. “After that is completed the committee will look to other departments, such as the drainage and engineering departments to help with the process.”

Officials for Somerset Academy, which is based in San Antonio,  could not be reached for comment.

The Indian River School District, led by former Superintendent Mark Rendell, tried for years to stop the new charter school from being constructed because officials feared it would siphon students and funding from non-charter schools in the district.

Somerset Academy eventually won the three-year administrative and legal battle and announced one year ago its goal was to open the new school in August 2019. Those plans have been modified as the school continues the process of getting the county’s planning department to approve its plans.

Somerset operates 67 charter schools nationwide, including its highly-rated academy in Miami. According to its Indian River County application, Somerset wants to open an academy with a STEAM curriculum focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

Somerset officials have also vowed to adhere to a 50-year-old federal desegregation order that the Indian River County School Board fought for years but has now embraced.

Meanwhile, a local church is planning another new school campus in the county.

The County Commission recently approved a conceptual site plan and special exception use request by Glendale Baptist Church, Inc. to construct a combined church and school building on an 8.78-acre site, located at the southeast corner of 27th Avenue and 4th Street.

The proposed site is currently vacant. The site is zoned residential only, so the church needed the board to grant an exception so that it can build at the site.

The private K-8 school will house up to 250 students, according to the church’s proposed plans.