Nine groups apply for D.C. charter schools

March 5, 2013

Nine aspiring charter school operators have submitted applications to open in the District as early as fall 2014, according to proposals posted on the Web site of the D.C. Public Charter School Board.

The proposals, which were due March 1, include three alternative high schools for at-risk young adults and two Montessori programs for younger children. They also include a Ward 4 middle school; an adult GED program in wards 5 and 8; a shuttered Ward 7 private school seeking to convert to public funding; and a blended-learning high school in Ward 2.

The prospect of new charters comes amid public debate about the future of public education in the District, where the traditional school system is closing 15 schools for low enrollment even as charter schools continue to grow quickly.

Last week, the charter board approved the city’s largest-ever single charter application — a proposal by Rocketship Education to establish as many as eight schools serving more than 5,000 students. That round of applications was for experienced operators who can show a track record of success; this round is for start-ups.

The board and its staff will examine each of the nine proposals and conduct interviews with the nine applicants. The board will then hold public hearings before voting this spring to approve or deny each application.

Here’s a quick look at the nine proposals.

1. Nexus Academy

What: A college-prep high school that blends online and face-to-face-learning. It would be operated by Connections Education, a subsidiary of the publishing giant Pearson. This group applied previously as an experienced operator, but the board decided that the group fit better in the start-up category.

Where: Ward 2

Who: 600 9th-12th graders

2. DC VOICE Empowerment

What: A preschool and high school aimed at serving teen parents and their kids, including with career and technical education, wraparound health and counseling services, a longer school day and summer school. Less than 2 percent of teen mothers in the District earn a college degree by age 30, according to DC VOICE.

Where: Ward 4

Who: 250 preschoolers and high-school students.

3. Organizing an Urban Revolution through education (OUR) Leadership Academy

What: An alternative high school for disconnected youths and students at risk of incarceration. The Academy will “deconstruct the ‘Street Code,’ a mentality that normalizes violence ... and replace it with a social justice ideology,” according to the application.

Where: Navy Yard (Ward 5 or 6)

Who: 200 high schoolers

4. New Pathways Academy

What: A blended-learning alternative high school for at-risk youths in far Southeast.

Where: Ward 7.

Who: 350 9th-12th graders

5. One World

What: A middle school that uses a longer school day and year, and which emphasizes artistic expression, environmental awareness and accommodating different learning styles.

Where: Ward 4, 19th Street Baptist Church on 16th Street NW

Who: 300 5th-8th graders

6. Nannie Helen Burroughs

What: This private school closed last fall due to funding problems. There weren’t enough dollars flowing into the school from the city’s federal voucher program, according to the application. It is seeking to become a charter school, which would allow it to be publicly funded.

Where: Ward 7, 601 50th Street NE

Who: 279 K-5th graders

7. Crossway Community

What: A Montessori elementary school that would be run by an organization that currently operates a Montessori charter school in Montgomery County.

Where: NoMa neighborhood

Who: pre-K through 3rd graders

8. Lee Montessori

What: A Montessori elementary school offering an extended school day, founded by current Montessori teachers and parents.

Where: Ward 5 or Ward 7

Who: 228 preschool-6th graders

9. Academy of Hope

What: An adult school for students 18 and over who want to earn a GED.

Where: Ward 5 and Ward 8.

Who: Adults only

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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