Crossway Community in Montgomery needs new principal, wants to expand to D.C.

June 17, 2013

The Washington Post ran an article Monday morning highlighting the financial struggles of Crossway Community Montessori, Montgomery County’s first charter school and only public Montessori school.

Here are some other facts about the school that didn’t make it into the article:

Crossway Community tried to expand to D.C. this year: Crossway applied to open a new charter school in the NoMa area of the District, but the D.C. Public Charter School Board rejected its application. Post D.C. schools reporter Emma Brown reported in May that Crossway was turned down “for not adequately describing how its program would work in the District.”

The proposal suggested that the charter school be connected to multi-generational services for both students, parents and even grandparents.

Crossway Chief Executive Kathleen Guinan said the group may try again.

“We were very happy to get very good feedback from the charter board, and we intend to talk to our board and incorporate that feedback,” Guinan said. “One of the things we’d really need to explain in more detail is the connection of the wrap-around services and the Montessori school.”

Funding from Montgomery increased for Crossway: In Crossway’s first year, Montgomery budgeted $274,242 for Crossway. That number has increased to $694,866 and about 10 full-time positions for the coming school year. Student enrollment is expected to surpass 100 students for the 2013-14 school year, up from the 70 who attended in its inaugural year.

The school is looking for a new principal/coordinator: Montgomery public schools officials will work with Crossway administrators to find a new educator to lead the charter after Jacqueline Cossentino resigned in the 2012-13 school year for family reasons. Cossentino was not yet a certified principal in the state of Maryland when she was in charge of Crossway. But, Guinan said, Cossentino was in the middle of preparing Maryland certification forms before she left.

Cossentino previously ran a public Montessori in Connecticut, where she holds an administrator’s certificate, Guinan said.

“I am totally confident that Dr.Cossentino’s experience and certifications are more than sufficient to qualify her to lead our school,” Guinan said. “We are very fortunate to have her.”

Lori-Christina Webb, executive director of the district’s office of teaching, learning and programs for Montgomery County, said the district was also confident in Cossentino’s qualifications even though she wasn’t yet certified in Maryland.

The school system will be heavily involved in finding a replacement, Webb said.

“We have a shared interest in having that position filled with a great deal of expertise,” Webb said.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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