Selected readings on US charter schools
There are 17 new schools approved to open here, including schools with single-gender classes, an online/in-person hybrid and another that teaches courses in construction.
Statewide, 52 charters are allowed to open. It’s the largest number of new schools in the past three years, according to the Ohio Department of Education. For the start of the 2011 and 2012 school years, 35 and 33 new schools opened, respectively.
Some of the new charters in central Ohio target neighborhoods without close-by schools. Some want to serve a particular type of student — inner city and poor, for example. And at least one is opening anew after just having been shut down for poor performance.
The Imagine Columbus Primary Academy is in the same building — and run by the same operator — as Academy of Columbus, which was forced to close in July after years of low academic marks.
A note on the Academy of Columbus Facebook page tells parents the school is closed, but they can fill out a one-page form to simply transfer to the new school in the same North Side location.
On the West Side, Franklinton Preparatory Academy will serve high-school kids who might find Columbus’ West and Briggs high schools too far away, said Dave Cash of Charter School Specialists, which oversees schools on behalf of a sponsor, St. Aloysius Orphanage.
The school’s founder grew up on the West Side, Cash said. “The idea is to try to have a school that is there close to where those families are and where the children are.”
Charter schools are public schools. They receive state per-pupil money but often operate independently of a school district and can open only in areas of the state deemed academically “ challenged.” Columbus City Schools is the only district in central Ohio where charter schools can open this year.
About 80 charter schools currently operate in central Ohio, and there are more than 350 statewide.
Few have a great academic track record.
In central Ohio, 29 of the 67 charter schools that received report cards last week met no basic testing requirements. Two schools, Columbus Preparatory Academy and Arts and College Preparatory Academy, got an A for their test-score performance. Two got a B; 17 had a C; 37 had a D; and four had an F.
One sponsor is overseeing nearly half of the new schools that will open in Columbus. Jim Lahoski, superintendent of the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, said he expects great things in particular from Celerity Tenacia Charter School and the Talented Tenth Leadership academies, one for boys and another for girls.
Celerity runs several charter schools in Los Angeles, primarily in tough neighborhoods such as Compton. It has been successful with inner-city students, Lahoski said. The Talented Tenth schools will be run by a well-regarded school leader from Pittsburgh, he said.
Celerity Tenacia is the first school that the Celerity group is opening in Ohio. It’ll have 80 students in kindergarten through second grade, said Craig Knotts, Celerity’s regional vice president here. It will expand one grade per year up to eighth grade.
“We’re fulfilling our mission: to provide a nurturing environment with high expectations where there may not be those options,” Knotts said. The school will be located in an office building near the Fort Rapids indoor water park.
Meanwhile, in addition to Academy of Columbus, a couple of other charters closed their doors over the summer. Crittenton Community School, which served at-risk children, closed for academic and financial reasons. Academy of New Media Middle School, which had been open for just two school years, closed this month because it didn’t have enough students.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch – by Jennifer Smith Richards (Dispatch Reporter Bill Bush contributed to this story)