|For Immediate Release|
|Friday, September 21, 2001|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman, 781-338-3106|
Science, Art and On-line Learning Among Options for New Charter Schools
MALDEN - A school dedicated to art, another focused on business and finance and a third that would be more "virtual" than traditional are just a few of the 27 proposals for new charter schools state officials are now considering.
State officials will notify the leaders of each proposed school by Oct. 19 if their preliminary proposals are accepted.
"I am encouraged to see such a wide array of ideas for new and innovative ways to address teaching and learning," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "Hopefully, these new practices will help all our children learn the skills they need to succeed later in life."
Of the proposals, 11 are for schools in Boston. The other schools are proposed for Attleboro, Cambridge, Chelsea, Devens, Falmouth, Greenfield, Great Barrington, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield, Winchendon and Worcester.
The majority of the plans are for middle and high schools, a switch from past years when most of the charters proposed were for elementary schools.
Commissioner Driscoll said this change likely stems from the state requirement that all students pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam in order to graduate.
“We are open to all of their ideas,” he said. “Particularly if they will help us improve our system of public schools.”
The initial proposals will be evaluated based on each plan’s description of why the students in the community proposing the school need to be served in a unique way.
Schools that meet the initial requirements will be asked to submit a final application by Nov. 20. The Board of Education will award the new charters in February.
All but one of this year’s 27 proposals are for Commonwealth charter schools, which are managed by a board of trustees, and operate independently of the community’s school committee.
Horace Mann charter schools also have a board of trustees, but need the approval of the local school committee and teacher’s union to operate.
The only Horace Mann school proposed this year was the Conte Community Charter School in Pittsfield for students in grades pre-K through 5. Based in a culturally diverse and low-income community, the proposal pledges to offer a “new approach” to education, in which students would be stimulated to learn.
Among the other proposals is the New Connections Academy, which would operate as a "virtual school" for students in grades K-12. Those who enroll would be taught from anywhere they choose, even at home.
Other proposals include the Leonardo Da Vinci Public Academy of Science and Art, which would be based in East Boston for students in grades 5-8, and the Devens Essential Charter School. This school, which would be located on the site of the former Fort Devens, would serve a small number of students in grades K-6, and focus on community building.
There are 17 Commonwealth and 27 Horace Mann charters available this year. There are currently 42 charter schools operating in the state, which include 36 Commonwealth schools and six Horace Mann.
Together the schools currently enroll more than 12,000 students from 200 school districts. At least 11,000 others are on enrollment waiting lists across the state.
Charter schools were created as alternatives to traditional public schools. They are established by groups of parents, teachers, business leaders and community organizations seeking innovative options for children. Each school that is approved by the Board of Education is given a five-year, renewable charter, and is open to all students.
For more information about charter schools, and a list of the proposals with contact numbers, look online at the charter school Web site .