Public Hearing on Proposed Charter School Scheduled for Dec. 14

A decision on the Somerville Progressive Charter School will be made Feb. 28.


The state will hold a hearing about the proposed on Dec. 14, according to a press release from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The group that applied to open the charter school, the Somerville Group for Progressive Education, seeks to open the school in September 2012, and by 2018 it could have 425 Somerville children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

You can read the Somerville Group for Progressive Education’s final application to the state, and about the group iteself, here

The hearing

The Dec. 14 hearing is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in  auditorium.

Each speaker will have three minutes to comment on the document.

There will be childcare and translators on hand, and the city’s cable channel will broadcast the hearing for those who can’t attend, according to a post by Somerville School Committee Chair, Adam Sweeting, on the Somerville-4-Schools listserv, a forum for parents to discuss education issues in the city. 

At least one member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will attend the hearing and summarize it for other members, according to the press release.

The board will also accept written statements through Jan. 3. Mail them to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Charter School Office, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148; or send an e-mail to charterschools@doe.mass.edu.

Then Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner, Mitchell Chester, will review the information gathered by the board and make a recommendation to either grant or refuse a five-year charter to the founding group. Finally, the board will take a vote at its Feb. 28, 2012 meeting.

The School Committee will speak against the proposal 

Members of the Somerville Public Schools’ School Committee the opening of the Somerville Progressive Charter School at the hearing.

With regard to enrollment, committee member Teresa Cardoso, who put forward a motion in October to object to the charter school in writing, said the school poses "a threat to our numbers.” 

Since then, the Somerville Public Schools’ administration has published a one-page sheet estimating the amount of state funding that could be diverted from the public schools to the charter school. Staff calculated that over five years, the public schools might lose $15,230,000. (See attached PDF.) 

The loss of an additional $4,790,000 over five years in state aid through the Chapter 70 Program, the sheet states, could cause the district to lay off 75 teachers, close an elementary school and eliminate extracurricular activities.

Have questions about the Somerville Progressive Charter School? Attend a meeting at a meeting for English speakers Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 1, at 9 a.m. at 26 Flint St., Somerville. The group will schedule meetings for non-English speakers shortly.

Denise December 06, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Hey Amanda, are you going to write an article about the SPCS founders plan?
Barry Logue December 09, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Why is SPCS spending $ 350K - 400K PER YEAR on 4 FTEs for NON-INSTRUCTIONAL professional administration? 14 Salaries - Administrative (Professional) YEAR 1 Year 2 Year 3 295,000 303,850 312,966 NOTES : 14 Non-instructional personnel on payroll such as executive director, business manager, director of operation, etc. on payroll. (Principals and Instructional Leaders should be noted in line 210). 15 Salaries - Administrative (Support/Clerical) YEAR 1 Year 2 Year 3 58,000 90,640 93,359 NOTES 15 Non-instructional administrative support personnel on payroll who support the organization as a whole by preparing, transcribing, systematizing or preserving communications, records and transactions. 1. And who among the founders is going to be hired into these "non-instructional roles"? 2. Over 10% ($280K) of the first year operating revenues ($2.8M) is coming from, I presume, future "grants" and "other" which I believe starts in 2012 - so SPCS is running a deficit from the beginning. I think the fiscal modeling is generous on outside revenue sources which means a reduction in the educational services SPCS could potentially offer. I don't feel that the charter founders have any experience in running such a educational business offer little evidence that this business model is viable. see the complete budget at http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=6532
Barry Logue December 10, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Yes I plan to oppose the charter based on its flawed operating budget assumptions listed in the budget submitted to the state which includes excessive 'non-instructional professional & administrative staffing expenses' of $358K as well as teaching 'paraprofessionals' $280K and the ... Teachers (and principal/asst principal) salaries $587K How many FOUNDERS will SPCS employ ? Many are educational/instructional professionals - are they limited from being paid - because otherwise this seems like a special interest group grabbing for public funds.
Paula Woolley December 14, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Patch didn't report on this: The International Parents Group at the Welcome Project, based at Somerville's Mystic Housing Development, has asked the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to postpone a decision on the proposed Somerville Progressive Charter School so that immigrant families can find out about it and make an informed decision as to whether opening this school will be good for their children. "We represent many different schools in Somerville. We are concerned about the decisions that are being made in regard to the new charter school," the parents wrote in a letter to DESE's Charter School Office. "We ask for respect and equality for all students in Somerville schools. We feel pressured to make a rapid decision about this issue. We need more information about what is happening and what the benefits are of their academic plan… "We feel that a decision needs to be delayed until the concerns of the parents who have signed this letter are clarified." The International Parents Group formed last year to ensure that the needs of immigrant families were addressed during the Unification process at the Healey School. The group now includes parents from several schools and they meet regularly at The Welcome Project. They continue to be an independent voice of immigrant parents at the Mystic Housing Development. A majority of the parents are Latino, though the group also has members from Haiti, Ethiopia, and Viet Nam.
Paula Woolley December 14, 2011 at 02:07 PM
The more I've learned about the process for applying for a charter school, the more aghast I've been. The state seems to assume that a district doesn't need any substantial amount of time to discuss a potential charter. Three weeks notice at Thanksgiving is not sufficient, especially when the founders talked to so few people about their plans and didn't hold public meetings until Nov. There should be a requirement that charter proposers must hold a public meeting (publicized in all local media and languages) during the school year prior to the public hearing. Also, I wonder whether all the board members making this decision currently have children in urban public schools? The schools have changed IMMENSELY since Ed reform and even more since 2000. I see one member is a former Worcester principal (not sure re public/private or charter) and one is a current student at Brookline High, but others are business people. I feel very uncomfortable having business people make decisions about education.


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