State Board of Education members today approved three charter school modification requests, giving two schools the OK to add high schools and a third the clearance to close its upper school and add kindergarten.
Newark Charter and Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences will expand to high schools. Campus Community will phase out its high school and add kindergarten. Under the plan, members of this year’s junior class would be able to finish their senior year at CCS.
Last month, the State Board declined to approve the modification requests of Campus Community School after some members expressed concern about the addition of the kindergarten grade to the school, citing student performance data that was not part of the record in the matter.
State Board President Terri Quinn Gray brought the request back to the board today, noting that while the board’s March decision not to approve the request “clearly reflects our priority on academic achievement and growth and our hesitation to expand a school in the absence of a strong track record of successful academic performance,” the official record did not contain academic performance data as part of the modification request.
Gray told the board she was compelled to ask members to reconsider the modification “on the principle that we are obliged to comply with existing Delaware law and base our decision solely on the official record.
“This by no way indicates a change or shift in the [board’s] position on academic performance as a priority measure for all schools,” Gray said.
Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, who had recommended approval in March, supported the board’s decision today.
“Let me be clear for the record, student performance is paramount to our work for children and is the driver for all our efforts,” Lowery said. “To that end, the performance framework collaboration underway with the Department of Education, the State Board and our education stakeholders will help us align our expectations for charter school performance.”
In other business today, the state board approved Newark Charter and Sussex Academy’s requests to add high school grades.
Last week, Lowery sent state board members a seven-page letter outlining her recommendation to approve Newark’s request with conditions. Those included the school developing and implementing an outreach plan to those underrepresented demographic groups within the school’s five-mile preference area for enrollment and the school offering free and reduced lunch to all eligible students beginning this fall. The outreach plan would need Lowery’s approval prior to implementation. Read the full letter here.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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