SMITHFIELD – A new charter school will be opening next year in Smithfield. American Leadership Academy (ALA) Johnston, a K-12 charter school, will have a maximum enrollment of 1,950 students.
ALA Johnston Charter School will be built in time for the opening of the 2022-2023 school year. It will be located on Highway 70 West (W. Market Street) just west of Cloverdale Drive.
ALA Johnston will have two school buildings, a K-7 grade school and 8-12 grade high school. Each school will have its own play area and green space, with their own drop off areas. There will be a common parking lot with a looped drive around the school and a shared bus drop-off/service area. A large stadium will be located to the rear of the lot. School leaders said plans are still preliminary and the layout is subject to change.
Representatives with ALA Johnston received conditional rezoning approval August 3rd from the Smithfield Town Council for a 48.7 acre tract of land. The property will also be annexed into the town limits.
Town officials said they will have to work out details on fire protection for the site. The vacant land is currently served by the Wilson’s Mills Fire Department. Officials said Wilson’s Mills Fire would respond within the city limits of Smithfield to the new charter school, instead of the Smithfield Fire Department, unless an agreement is worked out between the fire departments. Town attorney Bob Spence was asked to look into the matter.
Mayor Andy Moore said he was concerned about traffic backing up onto Highway 70 in the morning and afternoon and wanted to make sure the driveway was engineered to stack cars in the parking lot to prevent any traffic issues.
ALA Johnston anticipates opening in the fall of 2022 with 1,450 students. By the second year enrollment will grown to 1,650 students, and eventually max out at 1,950.
Athletics will be offered based upon student interest. That may include baseball, softball, football, soccer, track and field, and gymnastics.