Washington, D.C. — The DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) continued its focus on expanding school quality and choice by approving three new charter schools Monday. The schools – Monument Academy, which will focus on serving students in foster care; Children’s Guild, which has expertise with special education; and Washington Global, which will offer international curriculum– were each approved with conditions that must be addressed before the schools can open in 2015.
“With these approved new schools, the PCSB is focused on increasing options and giving some of the most educationally disadvantaged students an opportunity for a quality education,” said Scott Pearson, PCSB executive director.
“We have thousands of names on charter school waitlists; even with these new options there will still be more demand than available spaces,” said John H. “Skip” McKoy, Board Chair. “The PCSB is committed to creating more high-quality options for families and applying rigorous criteria to the approval of new schools is one of the ways that we accomplish that,” McKoy said.
The approval of new charter schools in DC has never been one sided – since 1996 when charters were first awarded in DC, one-third of the schools have closed.
Monument Academy was approved to serve students who are in foster care. Its application proposed a weekday residential program for students in grades 5-12; the Board approved the school for grades 5-8 and set other conditions that would need to be satisfied before its opening day. The school would start with 40 fifth grade students in a location to be determined. “This is the first application that addresses the foster care community…that sets it apart for me,” said McKoy.
Children’s Guild DC was approved to educate 450 students in grades PK to 8 with a special emphasis on serving special education students. They are looking to open in Ward 7. Board Vice Chair Darren Woodruff commended the school’s “transformation education” model – a focus on personal growth, school culture and core values – and said he saw a curriculum that addressed students’ needs when visiting one of its program in Baltimore. Woodruff said in approving the school that it was an “opportunity for the city to show an even greater level of commitment to educating students with disabilities.”
Washington Global will offer an international-minded education that will offer Spanish and Chinese with a focus on world culture. It is looking to open in Ward 4,5, 7 or 8 with 100 students in grades 6 and 7. Board member Don Soifer noted the high quality of the application and the vision of the founding group in his approval vote.
Pearson said at the Board’s monthly meeting Monday night that for the first time in the PCSB’s approval process, the newly chartered schools would engage with the Deputy Mayor for Education to talk about facilities needs and coordinating their school opening with other education plans in the city.
In March, the Board received a total of eight applications, notified ANCs citywide of the applications and opened the public comment period. Meanwhile, staff began reviewing each application, which included 1) analyzing academic and financial plans, 2) conducting interviews with the founding group, and in applicable cases, 3) visiting existing programs run by the applicants. The Board held two public hearings in April about the applications. The Board voted to deny the applications of Educare, One World, SPACE, Washington Leadership Academy and Xcelerate.
About PCSB: The DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) is setting a national model for creating quality public school options through its rigorous review of new charter applications and effective oversight of charter school performance that is leading the transformation of public education in Washington, DC. PCSB oversees 60 public charter schools on 109 campuses serving more than 36,000 students living in every ward of the city. Learn more at dcpcsb.org.