Selected readings on US charter schools
The Pennsylvania Autism Charter School, which would have about 50 students, would be in operation for the 2014-15 school year, organizers said.
Annette Hickey of Bethlehem, founder, said the school’s curriculum would be based on the principles of Maria Montessori, the Italian educator who pioneered early childhood education.
“Ours would be the only school in the United States to use the Montessori method in educating children with autism,” said Hickey, who teaches in an Allentown arts academy.
Dr. Thomas Lubben, a Northampton County educational consultant, testified in favor of establishing the charter school.
It would draw its students, he said, from eastern Berks and western Lehigh County school districts. In three years, he predicted, the school would have about 80 students.
Under state law, charter schools have to be approved by a local school board.
Brandywine Solicitor John M. Stott said the school board has 45 days to act on the charter school application. If it’s turned down, the applicants can appeal the decision with the state Department Of Education.
Superintendent Andrew Potteiger questioned the advisability of establishing a charter school in the Longswamp building.
“There is little evidence of success in using the Montessori method to teach children with autism,” he said. “We oppose the application.”
Board members questioned whether Longswamp could pass current building code standards.
An engineering study conducted in 2011 showed the building needed an estimated $2.6 million in repairs.
Not wanting to incur the expense, the school board voted to close Longswamp. Subsequently, it was sold for $121,000 to a Lehigh County developer.
Source: ReadingEagle.com – by Ron Devlin