The MCPSA issued the following statement after Commissioner Mitchell Chester made his recommendations for new charter public schools.
BOSTON, MA – February 16, 2012 – The Commissioner’s recommendations continues the expansion of educational choice and opportunity for thousands of families across the state. However, the slowdown in the overall number of new charters raises red flags that the state’s existing caps on charter growth will need to be revisited again very soon.
Commissioner Chester’s recommendations include:
- Baystate Academy Charter School (Springfield), which will serve 560 children in Grades 6-12 and will open in September 2013;
- Collegiate Charter School of Lowell (Lowell), operated by SABIS Educational Services, which will serve 1,200 children in Grades K-12 and will open in September 2013;
- Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School (Holyoke), which will serve 500 students in Grades 9-12 and will open in September 2012.
We urge the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve these charter applications to create opportunities for more than 2,000 children in Lowell, Springfield, Holyoke, West Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, South Hadley, and Northampton to attend Commonwealth charters. We are disappointed that the Commissioner chose not to recommend two finalists - Springfield Preparatory Charter School, which would have replicated the highly successful SABIS International Charter School in Springfield, and the Somerville Progressive Charter School, which would have brought expanded choice to families in one of the lowest performing districts in the state.
Last year marked the beginning of a new era of charter expansion in high need communities across Massachusetts with the approval of 13 new Commonwealth charters. The approvals came as a result of the 2010 education reform law, which lifted arbitrary caps on charter public school growth in low-performing districts where there is considerable demand.
However, this year’s pool was significantly smaller and cities like Boston and Lawrence have been temporarily frozen again - after just one year of expansion.
Our schools are meeting the needs of students in communities across the state - particularly in urban communities and Gateway Cities, where charters are outperforming even schools in the most affluent suburban school districts. Across the state there are more children on charter wait lists than in charter classrooms.
The Patrick Administration and the Legislature need to monitor this situation to ensure that last year’s expansion was not a one-time deal.