McAuliffe Charter School will seek the state’s permission to increase its enrollment by a third in response to a recent surge in applications, the school’s executive director said.
The middle school will not ask to add a fifth grade, however, something officials at the 25 Clinton St. charter had been discussing over the past year.
McAuliffe’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to apply to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to amend the school’s charter to increase the maximum enrollment from 306 to 396. Executive director Kristin Harrison said their plan is to gradually bring in more students over the next several years, reaching 375 in 2015.
“The enrollment increase is going to be dependent on us working through our facility project,” she said, referring to McAuliffe officials’ quest for a new location in the area.
The school is working with a consultant on the search, and leaders so far have not revealed any potential destinations.
The request for a higher enrollment cap is fueled in part by a spike in interest in the school over the past few years. The school has been forced to turn down more than 100 students at its most recent enrollment lottery last month.
Charter revision applications are due in July, Harrison said; the state usually decides on them in November.
McAuliffe officials abandoned an earlier plan to expand to a fifth grade, partly in response to parents’ answers in a recent survey on the subject. About 40 percent of respondents were in favor, while 40 percent were opposed, Harrison said. Families in Ashland and Framingham, where fifth-grade students are taught in the elementary schools, mostly said no to the idea.
“They said they would not want to pull their student from elementary school,” Harrison said. “Finishing that fifth grade year was really important to them.”
School officials also felt the demand for sixth, seventh and eighth grade was high enough that 100 more students could be brought in without an additional grade, she said.
McAuliffe will celebrate the state’s recent reapproval of its five-year charter at a statewide renewal ceremony at the school on May 9. State education officials at the event will announce the latest round of Massachusetts charter renewals, as well as introduce new schools that have received a charter for the first time.
“It’s a really great honor,” Harrison said of McAuliffe’s hosting duties. “It further shows the validation the DESE (department of elementary and secondary education) is giving us.”