Public input deadline for proposed Fall River charter schools fast approaching

Date Published: 
December 19, 2013
Michael Gagne
News Type: 

FALL RIVER - The deadline for the public to submit comments on the city’s charter school proposals is quickly approaching, with Jan. 3 as the last date for submissions, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

After interviews of the proposed charter schools’ founding groups are completed and the public comments are reviewed, DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester will submit his recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will render a decision on the proposals during its February meeting.

The city has nearly 1,400 new charter school seats available.

Two new charter schools, New Heights and Argosy Collegiate, are proposed for the city, while the existing Atlantis Charter School seeks to add high school grades and additional seats to its current kindergarten-through-grade 8 program. The school currently enrolls 795 students. The new seats would add another 605, bringing Atlantis’ total enrollment capacity to 1,400 students.

Argosy Collegiate Charter School is a proposed grade 6-through-12 school, which promises to prepare all students for college. The school, if approved, would open next fall with 100 sixth-graders and expand until it reaches a maximum enrollment of 644 students by 2020. The school would adopt an extended school day and its curriculum, particularly in the earlier grades, would emphasize core subjects, including math and English.

The founding group first submitted its proposal last year. However, a noted criticism then was the group’s capacity to teach to special-needs students.

Lead founder Kristen Pavao said the current proposal has been revised to address previous criticisms.

New Heights Charter School of Fall River began as a proposed grade 6-through-13 early college high school that would have occupied the Henry Lord Middle School building. The school is divided into lower and upper schools, with students enrolling simultaneously in high school and college classes starting in the 10th grade. At maximum enrollment, New Heights would serve 800 students.

Both Argosy and New Heights have announced they would accept intent-to-enroll forms from the families of prospective students. The schools have planned dates for public lotteries — New Heights on March 12 and Argosy on March 14 — for incoming classes.

According to Pavao, intent-to-enroll forms can be downloaded at, requested by email (in English, Portuguese, Spanish or Khmer) from , or by calling Pavao at 508-982-6121.

Public comments should be mailed to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Charter School Office, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148, or emailed to . The charter school applications can be viewed on the DESE website,

For more information on Argosy Collegiate Charter School, visit and its Facebook page.

More information on New Heights Charter School of Fall River is available on its website at

To learn more about Atlantis Charter School, visit