Thursday, November 20, 2014

PUBLIC HEARING FOR FITCHBURG REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL SCHEDULED

Public Hearings Scheduled on Four Charter School Final Applications

MALDEN - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced today that it has scheduled four public hearings in the coming weeks to invite community members to comment on this year's four charter school final applications.
Charter school founding groups that submitted a final application for a Massachusetts public charter school will undergo a rigorous review process over the next three months. The public hearings represent an opportunity for interested parties to provide feedback on the finalists. At least one member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will attend each hearing and report back to the full Board on the public testimony provided at each hearing.
In addition to the hearings, members of the public can submit written comments through Jan. 5, 2015 to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Charter School Office, 75 Pleasant St., Malden MA 902148 or by email tocharterschools@doe.mass.edu.
Public hearings will be held from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the following locations:
  • Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014 - Springfield
    Brightwood Branch Library meeting room, 359 Plainfield St., Springfield
  • Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 - Brockton (pending waiver, please see below)
    Brockton Main Library meeting room, 304 Main St., Brockton
  • Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 - Fitchburg
    Fitchburg Public Library auditorium, 610 Main St., Fitchburg
  • Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 - Salem
    Bentley Elementary School cafeteria, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem
    (The Department scheduled this hearing on the first day of Hanukkah only after ruling out other options. Individuals who celebrate the holiday and who would like to comment on the Salem application should feel free to attend any of the other hearings or to give input during the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Dec. 16 meeting at 8:30 a.m. at 75 Pleasant St., Malden.)
The final application process includes a rigorous review of the written final application by a review team, an interview of the applicant group, public hearings in the areas where schools are proposed to be located, and a review of public comments submitted to ESE. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester will then review all of the materials and make final recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will consider the recommendations and potentially vote to grant charters in February 2015.
The founders of five proposed charter schools were invited to submit final applications during the 2014-15 application cycle. The applicants for one of those, the UP Academy Charter School of Boston, which would have been a Horace Mann charter, decided to not to pursue a charter at this time.
The final application for the New Heights Charter School of Brockton was submitted for Department consideration pending a waiver. A provision of the 2010 Achievement Gap Act requires that the first two Commonwealth charters approved in a cycle must be in the lowest 10 percent of districts. The district it proposes to serve, Brockton, is not among the lowest 10 percent in the state. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will decide on the applicant's waiver request at the Board's Nov. 25 meeting. If the Board grants the waiver, the charter proposal will proceed with the review process.
Read more:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fitchburg Charter School Fills Opportunity Gap

Editorial in Sentinel & Enterprise, November 3, 2014

My name is Patrick Printz. My wife, Heather, and I are long-time residents of Fitchburg and have a son who will be 3 years old this December.  We work tirelessly to provide our son with the best learning opportunities we can and to provide environments where he will thrive. We want to ensure that the time he spends at school is in line with the goals we have for him. While Fitchburg MCAS tests have shown improvement, the scores themselves still leave Fitchburg far behind other districts.  The proposed Academy for the Whole Child Charter School offers much needed innovation with an individualized educational approach, longer school day, and holistic learning style.  The proposed school focuses on the whole child and seeks to nurture both mind and body.  This is a great opportunity for Fitchburg families and the city as a whole.  Learning how to read and write alone is not an education, and that is what makes a school like the Academy for the Whole Child appealing.  

When we meet other parents my wife and I love to learn about the choices they have made for their children’s education.  Unfortunately the parents we have talked with have concerns and many lack confidence in the Fitchburg school system.  They move out of town or choose not to live in Fitchburg in the first place.  Other families opt for school choice in another district and many of the families we have spoken with choose parochial schools.  There are also families who don’t have the luxury of these options and while they express concerns, their choices are limited.  Charter schools help fill this opportunity gap and give families who are looking for other options a reason to stay in Fitchburg.


The time for a change is now and we call on the Department of Education to do the right thing and not leave our youngest population behind over a bureaucratic technicality.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Academy for the Whole Child given GREEN LIGHT to move forward!

NEW FLASH!!... Academy for the Whole Child has received the green light from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to go forward with the application process!  

Earlier this month we were told we couldn't go forward because of a technicality in the law that prioritizes charter schools to be located in the 10% lowest performing districts.  As a result, we submitted a waiver request to the DESE to reconsider their decision.  In response, the DESE said that we could go forward if we redesign a service region of communities that meet the requirements of the law.   

With some minor changes, we submitted a proposed region that includes the communities:  Fitchburg, Leominster, Athol-Royalston, Gardner, Orange, Winchendon, and Clinton. The DESE has confirmed that this proposed region meets the lowest 10% criterion and therefore a waiver is not required to allow the Board to consider the application.  

A4WCCS Founders October 30, 2014