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City on a Hill to apply to create two more charter schools: in Boston, New Bedford

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 14, 2012 04:55 PM

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City on a Hill Charter Public School plans to seek state approval to create two charter high schools, one in Boston and one in New Bedford, that would each replicate the organization’s flagship high school in Roxbury.

The school said its trustee board voted unanimously last week to submit an application for the charter schools this summer to the state’s education department.

Last week, the Globe reported that the state has decided to lift a temporary moratorium on proposals to open charter schools in several cities, including Boston, due to high demand.

That move is expected to prompt many more proposals.

Under City on a Hill’s proposal, a school would open to high school freshmen in Boston in August 2013 and the New Bedford school would open to 9th graders in August 2014, administrators said. Each school would add one grade level each year to become full four-year high schools.

The two proposed schools would each serve 280 students, like the existing charter school in Roxbury, officials said. Together, the City on a Hill schools would create a “three-school district.”

The existing school in Roxbury was founded by two high school English teachers in 1995. It was one of Massachusetts’ first charter schools.

The school is independent of the Boston Public School system and open to all city students, officials said. New students are selected by a random lottery and are only admitted in the 9th grade.

Leaders of the existing school said they received a record 880 applications for approximately 90 open seats for the upcoming school year.

Waiting lists for this fall at most of Boston’s 20 charter schools range from 550 to 2,647 students, the Globe has reported. More than 45,000 students are on waiting lists for this fall across the 68 charter schools in Massachusetts.

City on a Hill said in an announcement it chose New Bedford as the site for one of the proposed schools because the city’s Mayor, Jonathan Mitchell, has “demonstrated commitment to educational improvement there, because current graduation rates and standardize testing scores demonstrate a need and because of “Governor [Deval] Patrick’s focus on educational and economic growth in the Commonwealth’s Gateway cities.”

Erica Brown, director of City on a Hill, said in the statement that she recently visited New Bedford.

“I attended one of the Mayor’s educational forums in March and was more than impressed with the parents, teachers, and students who spoke about what they value in a great education,” she said. “And, it resonated with the high quality educational opportunities that City on a Hill is able to provide its current student body in Boston.”

The state’s education board will vote on charter school proposals in February.

Leaders of the at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton and the Edward Brooke Charter School, which will have three campuses in operation this fall, each told the Globe last week that they are exploring the idea of seeking state approval to create more seats.

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