State education commissioner recommends 5 new charter schools, endorses expansion of 11 existing ones

The Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education announced today that he is recommending approval of five new charter school proposals and the expansion of 11 existing charter schools.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on the proposals at its monthly meeting on Feb. 26. The board almost always approves the commissioner’s recommendations.

The five charter school proposals, including two in Boston, prevailed in a crowded field that originally boasted 22 proposals last summer. That field was subsequently winnowed down in the fall to 11 finalists.

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“We have many outstanding charter schools in Massachusetts, and I support the continued establishment and growth of quality charter schools that set high expectations, demonstrate results, and prepare all students for success in college, career, and life,” said Mitchell Chester, the state commissioner of elementary and secondary education. “I believe the five new charter schools that I am recommending are well positioned to become academically successful and viable organizations that will close proficiency gaps and equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.”

One of the Boston proposals receiving his endorsement calls for converting the city-run Marshall Elementary School into UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester for this fall. The school would be run by Unlocking Potential, a nonprofit school-management company, under a contract with the School Department.

This is the second Boston public school that would be run by Unlocking Potential, which converted the Gavin Middle School in South Boston into an UP Academy in fall 2011. The company also runs a middle school in Lawrence and also announced on Friday that it will operate a second middle school there.

Chester also endorsed two proposals by City on a Hill, an independently run charter school in Roxbury, to open a second charter school in Boston and another school in New Bedford.

Chester also gave his backing to Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School in Chelsea to open another site in Springfield, and a proposal for Pioneer Charter School of Science II, in the Salem area.

Existing charter schools winning recommendations for expansion are:

Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School in Boston; Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester; Conservatory Lab Charter School, Brighton; Edward W. Brooke Charter School, Boston; Edward W. Brooke Charter School 2, Boston; Edward W. Brooke Charter School 3, Boston; Excel Academy Charter School, East Boston; Excel Academy Charter School – Chelsea; Community Day Charter Public School – Prospect, Lawrence; Four Rivers Charter Public School, Greenfield; and Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Hadley.

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