- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The D.C. Public Charter School Board approved the applications for three new charter schools Monday night and granted first-stage clearance to three more.

If all six schools are approved and open for the 2004-05 school year, that would bring to 29 the number of charter schools under the board’s control and add up to 3,000 slots for D.C. children.

The organizations given first-stage clearance will have to resubmit their applications in November with stronger plans and revisions that address the board’s concerns. The board will vote in January on whether the three groups will be chartered.

“Overall, these were very strong applications,” said Tom Loughlin, chairman of the charter school board. “From what we saw from these groups, we saw a very good chance for these schools.”

The board rejected the applications of five groups, saying they need to heed detailed explanations by the board to correct deficiencies. Charter schools are publicly funded and independently managed.

“There were some promising concepts out there,” he said. “They just couldn’t pull this all together.”

Mr. Loughlin said the groups that fell short in their attempts could have been turned down for failing to find a secure facility or for lack of planning.

The three schools granted approval were Two Rivers PCS, which plans to serve 500 pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade students using a reform model known as “expeditionary learning”; D.C. Bilingual PCS, which would offer 372 students, age 3 through kindergarten, bilingual and multicultural instruction; and E.L. Haynes PCS, which would specialize in math and science for 656 pre-kindergarten to second-grade students.

The following applicants were granted first-stage clearance: the Howard University Math and Science Middle School, which said in its application that it would serve 300 to 500 sixth- to eighth-graders in math, science and technology; William E. Doar PCS for the Performing Arts, which said the school would offer 1,000 pre-kindergarten to senior students a college prep and performing arts curriculum; and Bridges Academy, which would specialize in early-childhood learning.

Mr. Loughlin said the 11 applications the board had received this year show that more parents are seeking alternative education, and that charter schools have made good impressions.

The board will be overseeing 23 schools when the school year starts in the District in September, and those will serve about 9,900 children.

There are 69,600 students in D.C. public schools.

Several of the charter schools monitored by the board have long waiting lists for students. Before the meeting Monday, the board had approved 24 of 79 applications since 1997.

In June and July, board members reviewed applicants’ budgets, mission statements and curriculum plans, and interviewed those groups interested in starting schools.

The board held a public hearing in which applicants described their purposes and the public could comment on the effects the schools could have on the quality of education in the city.



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