DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Alabama Public Charter School Commission voted 5-2 in favor of the Barnabas School of Leadership to come to the campus of the Greater Beulah Baptist Church.

“It was a joint effort, a community effort, and we got it done. The people wanted a change,” Dr. Darryl Roberts said.

In fact, the Barnabas School of Leadership, that’s projected to have 350 students and grades kindergarten through 5th for the first year has already started preparing for the next school year.

“We have our principal in place, we are preparing to get our teachers, there will be a lottery for our students, and we are working diligently to get our facilities in order,”

In an hour-long zoom meeting, both Barnabas School of Leadership and Dothan City Schools were on the call with commissioners.

The school board showed a PowerPoint to share their vision and mission on why a charter school is needed in Dothan — and part of that is due to their research which showed a decline in test scores and a growing proficiency gap between white and minority groups in DCS.

DCS superintendent Dr. Dennis Coe made his argument before commissioners one last time that pointed out the data used in Barnabas application was from two years of dealing with COVID, the money that would be lost from public schools, and how a charter school would cause diversity issues.

“The superintendent tried to make his case on race, on it’s just a black school it’s not certainly this school is open to anyone who want to come,” Dr. Roberts said.

Other concerns raised during the meeting were centered around funding. Founder Darryl Roberts says right now — there’s not a lot of money on hand, they have applied for a state grant, and were promised 10-20 thousand dollars from lending institutions.

“Now that the application is approved, we going back to the same lending companies and the banks that we bank with and we’re going to ask for a line of credit and upstart mone,” He said.

Roberts wants to thank the community for their outpour of interest at the public hearing a few weeks ago and the school is scheduled to open August of 2023.