Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Massachusetts Ed Commissioner Recommends Approval of 4 New Charters

On February 16, 2012, Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chester Mitchell announced that he will recommend four new charters be granted to groups looking to open schools in Boston, Holyoke, Springfield and Lowell. Baystate Academy Charter (Springfield), Collegiate Charter of Lowell, and Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter (Holyoke) will be Commonwealth charter schools while Dudley Street Neighborhood School (Boston) will be a Horace Mann charter school. Commonwealth charters are fully autonomous and operate independently of the local school district; Horace Mann charters are developed and operated in close operation with the host school district and, unlike Commonwealth charters, require approval by the local school committee. Two other charter school applicants during the 2011-12 cycle (Somerville Progressive and Springfield Preparatory) were not recommended for approval but can reapply during future cycles.

  • Baystate Academy Charter School will enroll Springfield students in grades 6-12 beginning in 2013-14 and has a proposed maximum capacity of 560 students (80 students in each grade). According to the schools' founders, Baystate will have a STEM focused, health sciences orientated curriculum. The school plans to partner with Baystate Health, Springfield Technical Community College, and Expeditionary Learning in order to prepare students to enter their post-secondary education and health careers with scientific and technical knowledge.
  • Lowell Collegiate Charter School (LCCS) will enroll students in grades K-12 also beginning in 2013-13 and has a proposed maximum capacity of 1,200 students. The school will start with grades K-5 and will expand until it reaches the 12th grade. LCCS will fully implement SABIS education program, assessment system, instructional methods and school management model.
  • Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School will enroll 500 students from Holyoke, West Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, South Hadley and Northampton in grades 9-12. PFSJCS will run on an 180 day school year beginning in 2012-13 with students attending class from 8:30am - 4pm four days a week and 8:30am - 3pm on Fridays. The focus of PFSJCS's educational program will be centered on Personal Excellence, Supportive Communities, and Social Responsibility.
  • Dudley Street Neighborhood School will enroll 308 students from Boston in grades K- 5 starting in 2012-13. Dudley will not only run on a longer school day/year but will also implement mixed-grade, looped two year classrooms so that teachers have time to adequately address individual learning needs. Students will be taught by teacher teams of four who will be responsible for 88 students over the two year period; on each team, at least one teacher will be dual-licensed in ESL and one who is dual-licensed in Students with Moderate Disabilities.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on the Commissioner's recommendations for charter school approval on February 28, 2012. There are currently 79 approved charter schools in Massachusetts; approval of these four schools would bring the total to 83.

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