Charter school in Penn Hills in 2012?

Go down

Charter school in Penn Hills in 2012?

Post  HopefulInPh on Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:12 am

Charter school in Penn Hills in 2012?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
By Tina Calabro

A charter school initiative led by a Carlow University faculty member has submitted a proposal to the Penn Hills School District.

Penn Hills resident James Carmine, associate professor of philosophy at Carlow, developed the concept for the Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship for kindergarten through eighth grade in collaboration with Arlington, Va.-based Imagine Schools. The curriculum for the proposed school focuses on critical thinking and the creation of a "micro-society" of government, business and other community entities within the school.

A proposal submitted to the Penn Hills school board earlier this month said the charter would enroll 250 students in kindergarten through grade three in its first year of operation and would add a grade level each school year before reaching a maximum enrollment of 600. Students residing in Penn Hills would have preferred enrollment.

The projected opening, pending approvals, could be fall 2012, said Kerry Varkonda, development director for Imagine.

No location has been chosen for the proposed school, said Mr. Varkonda, who also said Imagine Schools had inquired about the availability of the former Shenandoah Elementary building, a Penn Hills school that closed in 2008. That property is not currently on the market, said school district business manager Richard Liberto.

In addition to Dr. Carmine, other charter board members are accountant Bruce Hall and educators Yvonne Comer-Holbrook, Sarah Hummel and Tanya Smith, all of Penn Hills.

A charter school is funded by school district funds but operates independent of the district and must provide an educational program that is different from what is offered in district schools.

The Penn Hills school board has 60 days to accept or reject the proposal. If it is rejected, the charter school board can appeal the decision at the state level. Such an appeal requires the applicant to provide certified signatures of 1,000 residents who support the charter and to make a compelling case for the need for the school.

Penn Hills has no charter schools within its boundaries, but about 469 of its students attend charters located in neighboring districts, as well as cyber schools.

A charter school within the district would put a strain on finances, said Mr. Liberto. The district receives a state subsidy of about $10,600 for each student in general education in its schools. If a student attends a charter school, that amount goes to the student's tuition. At the end of the school year, the district is eligible for reimbursement of 28 percent of charter school tuition, but getting that subsidy is contingent on the status of the state budget and is not guaranteed, said Mr. Liberto.

Dr. Carmine, 56, said he initiated the charter school proposal because he and his spouse, Emily Cantin, were doubtful that their three children, ages 5, 3 and 1, would obtain a quality education in district schools. The couple moved to Penn Hills from Pittsburgh in 2007. Their oldest child attends Propel Charter in North Braddock.

Dr. Carmine said the couple's primary concern about the schools was that some of them did not meet Annual Yearly Progress on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests. He said they were also concerned about school board politics, teacher morale and the increasing number of families opting out of district schools.

According to school district reports, enrollment in Penn Hills schools decreased by 1,650 students between 2003 and 2010 for a variety of reasons. Charter and cyber school enrollment over the same period increased from 121 from 469 students.

Another concern, said Dr. Carmine, is the ongoing closure of neighborhood elementary schools. Beginning in 2013, all district students in preschool through grade four will attend a new elementary center that will be built on the current Dible Elementary site.

Dr. Carmine is an insider to the district. For the past 12 years, the district has contracted his services as a teacher of critical thinking classes for gifted elementary students and of college-credit philosophy courses at the high school.

"I have spent lots of time with incredible Penn Hills students and have had good experiences," he said. "But I think the schools should be better."

Dr. Carmine said he contacted Imagine Schools about developing a charter proposal because he was familiar with the company's Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh's Regent Square neighborhood, where he and his family lived before moving to Penn Hills. That school opened in 2008.

Imagine Schools is a for-profit entity that operates 71 schools with 34,000 students. The Regent Square charter is the company's only school in Pennsylvania. A 2009 proposal for a charter school based on community service and leadership development in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood was rejected at the school district and state level, but has been resubmitted for another review, Mr. Varkonda said.

The charter school proposed for Penn Hills would be controlled by its charter board, but would be operated by Imagine Schools. The company operates a school with the entrepreneurship concept in Vero Beach, Fla.

Dr. Carmine, who has previously been in the news for his unsuccessful Republican runs for state representative in 2000 and mayor of Pittsburgh in 2001, said he was a firm believer in the concept of charter schools.

"There's no particular magic about charters, just an ability to deliver effective education. Traditional public school education can work, but it won't unless given an incentive through competition."

Tina Calabro, freelance writer; suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.




Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10328/1105613-56.stm#ixzz16D1O1JlI
avatar
HopefulInPh
Admin

Posts : 173
Join date : 2008-07-24
Age : 53

Back to top Go down

Very Interested

Post  MrsJohnson on Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:06 am

I am interested to see how the Board votes on this issue...if the primary statement from the Business Office is
"A charter school within the district would put a strain on finances, said Mr. Liberto. The district receives a state subsidy of about $10,600 for each student in general education in its schools. If a student attends a charter school, that amount goes to the student's tuition. At the end of the school year, the district is eligible for reimbursement of 28 percent of charter school tuition, but getting that subsidy is contingent on the status of the state budget and is not guaranteed, said Mr. Liberto."

Then the children are dollar signs, walking cashiers checks...the education is not the point, teacher dedication, not the point.... the subsidy from the state is. Even with the children going to a charter or cyber school, the district still stands to receive almost $3000 ($2968) for not educating that child for that school year, and the gripe is they're not guaranteed to receive a refund of a subsidy they didn't earn for not educating a child in the district? Wow... confused


MrsJohnson

Posts : 4
Join date : 2010-08-14

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum