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School Committee Plans to Speak Against New Charter School

The Somerville School Committee voted to formally express its disapproval of the proposed Somerville Progressive Charter School.

The Somerville School Committee voted unanimously on Oct. 11 to write a letter objecting to a proposed new chater school in the city. The committee plans to present its written opposition during a public hearing that will likely take place in November.

The School Committee is concerned about the proposed Somerville Progressive Charter School, which would cater to students whose first language isn’t English, according to a Boston.com news story. The charter school would teach students from kindergarten through 8th grade and would have a maximum enrollment of 425 students.

The Somerville School Committe fears the charter school could draw students away from Somerville's public schools.

Committee member Teresa Cardoso, who put forward the motion to object to the charter school in writing, said the charter school is "a threat to our numbers,” adding, “It’s a huge issue.”

Already, the committee has regular discussions at its meetings about ways to draw back students for .

Public hearing likely to happen soon

The founders of the Somerville Progressive Charter School must submit a complete application to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by Nov. 7, according to the DESE website.  

Soon after that date, the city will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposal, said a committee member. However, the charter school would need only the approval of state education officials, not the Somerville School Committee, to receive its five-year charter.

Determining effects

Adam Sweeting, chair of the School Committee, said he would write a draft of a statement outlining how the proposed charter school might affect Somerville Public Schools and the city.

Paul Bockelman, the vice chairman of the committee, said the committee should calculate how the opening of another charter school might affect enrollment in the city’s public schools.

“If we are against charter schools, that doesn’t go very far,” Bockelman said. “But if there are detrimental or beneficial effects on our children, we should know about those.”

Meanwhile, committee member Mark Niedergang said he didn’t want to demonize charter schools. 

“There’s already been too much divisiveness between public school people and charter school people,” he said. “I don’t want to fan those flames.”

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