|For Immediate Release|
|Friday, February 15, 2013|
|Contact:||JC Considine 781-338-3112|
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chester to Recommend Five New Charter Schools and Expansion Requests from 11 Existing Schools to Increase Charter Enrollment
MALDEN - Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester today announced he will recommend that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) vote this month to grant five new charters to groups seeking to open schools and approve expansion requests from 11 existing charter schools seeking to add seats to their current enrollments.
At its February 25-26 meeting, the Board will consider Commissioner Chester's recommendations to authorize the establishment of four new Commonwealth charter schools, including one in Boston, and one new Horace Mann charter school in Boston. The Board will also consider the commissioner's recommendations to approve expansion requests from 11 existing charter schools, including seven schools in Boston.
If the Board were to approve each of Commissioner Chester's recommendations, it would add a total of 1,585 new charter school seats for Boston (835 seats for new or existing Commonwealth charter schools, 750 seats for a new Horace Mann charter school).
"We have many outstanding charter schools in Massachusetts, and I support the continued establishment and growth of quality charter schools that set high expectations, demonstrate results, and prepare all students for success in college, career, and life," said Commissioner Chester. "I believe the five new charter schools that I am recommending are well positioned to become academically successful and viable organizations that will close proficiency gaps and equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed."
Commonwealth charter schools are fully autonomous and operate independently of the local school district. Horace Mann charter schools are developed and operated in close cooperation with the host school district, and require approval of the local school committee. Charter schools are open to all Massachusetts students, with enrollment preference given to students in the district or region where the school is located.
Commissioner Chester will recommend that the Board grant Commonwealth charters for the following four schools:
- City on a Hill Charter Public School II
- City on a Hill Charter Public School New Bedford
- Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, Springfield
- Pioneer Charter School of Science II
Commissioner Chester will recommend that the Board grant a Horace Mann charter for the following school:
- UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester
Commissioner Chester will also recommend that the Board approve expansion requests from the following 11 existing charter schools:
- Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School
- Codman Academy Charter Public School
- Conservatory Lab Charter School
- Edward W. Brooke Charter School
- Edward W. Brooke Charter School 2
- Edward W. Brooke Charter School 3
- Excel Academy Charter School
- Excel Academy Charter School – Chelsea
- Community Day Charter Public School – Prospect
- Four Rivers Charter Public School
- Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School
As part of the 2012-13 charter school application cycle, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) received 22 prospectuses from groups seeking to receive approval to open new charter schools in Massachusetts. Commissioner Chester invited the founders of 12 of those groups to submit final applications. One of those proposed schools dropped out before submitting a final application, and in total, 11 founding groups submitted final applications by November 14, 2012.
In addition, the Department received requests for major amendments to the charters of 23 schools. The Board previously granted eight requests to schools seeking an increase in maximum enrollment, a change to the grade span served, and/or a change to the districts served.
Commissioner's Recommendations for Boston
New Charter Schools – Boston
|Commonwealth Charter School||District or Region||Grades||Maximum|
|City on a Hill Charter Public School II||Boston||9-12||280||SY 2013-14|
|Horace Mann Charter School||District or Region||Grades||Maximum|
|UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester||Boston||K1-8||750||SY 2013-14|
Expansion Requests to Existing Charter Schools – Boston
| School ||District or Region||Current|
|Net Effect on|
|Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School||Boston||5-12||500||Enrollment increase (45)||+45|
|Codman Academy Charter Public School||Boston||9-12||145||Add grades K1-8; enrollment increase (200)||+200|
|Conservatory Lab Charter School||Boston||K1-6||169||Add grades 7-8; Enrollment increase (275)||+275|
|E.W. Brooke Charter School||Boston||K-8||475||Enrollment increase (35)||+35|
|E.W. Brooke Charter School 2||Boston||K-8||475||Enrollment increase (35)||+35|
|E.W. Brooke Charter School 3 (regional)||Boston||K-8||475||Enrollment increase (35)||-135 (1)|
|Excel Academy Charter School (regional)||Boston; Chelsea||5-8||300 (current cap of 200 for Boston)||Add grades 9-12; Enrollment increase(Chelsea: 48; Boston: 100)||+100 (2)|
As a result of charter school enrollment limits under the statutory net school spending (NSS) cap, the Department received more high quality new charter applications and amendment requests from qualified applicants for Boston than it could accommodate. To be eligible for additional seats or a new charter, applicants needed to meet proven provider status. Accordingly, Commissioner Chester weighed at the same time decisions on new charter applicants (for Commonwealth charter schools) and amendment requests from existing Boston-based charter schools. Under the 18 percent NSS cap, and after adjusting for a 4.7 percent holdback of seats to account for year-to-year variations in estimates, the Department estimated there would be 836 available charter school seats for Boston.
The commissioner's recommendation to grant one new Commonwealth charter school and expansion requests for seven existing charter schools would add 835 new seats in Boston. The proposal to establish the UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester, a Horace Mann charter school, would replace the existing John Marshall Elementary School and add 750 seats. Students currently enrolled in Marshall Elementary would have enrollment preference in the new school. Horace Mann charter school seats do not count against the 18 percent NSS cap for Boston.
Commissioner's Recommendations Outside of Boston
New Charter Schools – Outside of Boston
|Commonwealth Charter Schools||District or Region||Grades||Maximum|
|City on a Hill Charter Public School New Bedford||New Bedford||9-12||280||SY 2014-15|
|Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School Springfield||Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee||9-12||250||SY 2014-15|
|Pioneer Charter School of Science II||Saugus, Peabody, Lynn, Danvers, Salem||7-12||360||SY 2013-14|
Expansion Requests to Existing Charter Schools – Outside of Boston
| School ||District or Region||Current|
|Excel Academy Charter School - Chelsea||Chelsea||5-8||224||Add grades 9-12; Enrollment increase (224)|
|Community Day Charter Public School||Lawrence||K1-8||331||Enrollment increase (69)|
|Four Rivers Charter Public School||Frontier Regional, Greenfield, Gill-Montague Regional, Mohawk Trail Regional, Pioneer Valley Regional, Ralph C. Mahar Regional||7-12||212||Enrollment increase (8)|
|Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School||39 districts in western Massachusetts (3)||K-8||300||Add grades 9-12; enrollment increase (284)|
The following six groups have not been recommended for new charters by Commissioner Chester: Argosy College Charter School (Fall River), Edward W. Brooke Charter School 4 (Boston), International Charter School of Brockton (Brockton), Pioneer Charter School of Science IV (Woburn, Stoneham, Medford, Melrose, Wakefield, Saugus), Springfield Collegiate Charter School (Springfield), and YouthBuild Academy Charter School (Lawrence). The founders of those groups will receive feedback on their applications and are invited to reapply during future application cycles.
In January 2010, the Patrick-Murray Administration raised the charter school cap in the lowest performing school districts and made a number of changes to the charter authorizing process. The cap on district net school spending under the Achievement Gap Act is being raised from 9 percent to a maximum of 18 percent through incremental steps. The cap lift only applies to districts with academic performance in the lowest 10 percent as measured by MCAS, and applicants under the cap lift must have a proven track record of success in increasing academic attainment and commit to working with a diverse population of students. Sixteen new charters were awarded in February 2011, and an additional four new charters were approved in February 2012.
(1) Edward W. Brooke Charter School 3 is a regional school that serves both Boston and Chelsea, and is currently authorized to enroll up to 475 students, with no cap on the number of Boston students that may attend. If the Board adopts the recommended expansion request for Edward W. Brooke Charter School 3, the school would be authorized to enroll up to 510 students – but no more than 340 students from Boston, resulting in a net reduction of 135 seats against the 18 percent NSS cap for Boston.
(2) Excel Academy Charter School, a regional school that also serves both Boston and Chelsea, would be authorized to serve up to 448 students, but no more than 300 students from Boston, in order to ensure that the Boston cap is not exceeded.
(3) Agawam, Amherst, Amherst-Pelham (Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury), Belchertown, Chesterfield-Goshen, Chicopee, Conway, Deerfield, East Longmeadow, Easthampton, Frontier (Conway, Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately), Gill-Montague, Granby, Granville, Greenfield, Hadley, Hampden-Wilbraham, Hampshire (Chesterfield, Goshen, Southampton, Westhampton, Williamsburg), Hatfield, Hawlemont, Holyoke, Leverett, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Mohawk Trail (Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Shelburne), Northampton, Pelham, Pioneer Valley (Bernardston, Leyden, Northfield, Warwick), Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southampton, Springfield, Sunderland, West Springfield, Westfield, Westhampton, Whately, Williamsburg, and Southwick-Tolland