School administrators in the Mid Cape area breathed a collective sigh of relief as the proposed Sea Star Elementary Charter School died in the starting gate. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced Friday that Sea Star was one of four proposed charters that were not invited to submit a full application. Seven charter school applicants moved to the next level in the charter approval process.
State House News Service reports that the proposed schools that failed to move ahead are Central Massachusetts Science Technology Art and Mathematics Via Language Immersion Public Charter School, Chinese Immersion Charter School of Newton, and Sea Star Charter School of Cape Cod.
Schools that will advance to the next phase are Academy for the Whole Child Charter School, in Fitchburg; Argosy Collegiate Charter School, in Fall River; Fenix Charter School, in Lynn; Innovation Academy Charter School, in Fall River; Lynn Preparatory Charter School; Springfield Prep Charter School; and STEAM Studio Charter School, in Andover. DESE will hold public hearings in the areas where the charter is proposed. Final applications are due Oct. 25 and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will award the new charters in February.
New school could have forced another town elementary school to close
Some wondered who may have put pressure on the DESE to turn down a K-5 charter school in the Mid-Cape area. The proponents of Sea Star Charter School had sought to create a multi-age classroom elementary school that would serve grades K-5. The school was to be sited in the mid-Cape area, most likely either within the Barnstable or Dennis-Yarmouth region.
If it had succeeded in its quest, the school would be the first K-5 charter school on Cape Cod, creating a full array of K-12 options. It would have joined the Lighthouse Charter School in Harwich, which serves grades 6-12, and Sturgis East and Sturgis West in Hyannis, which serve grades 9-12.
All too familiar with losing students leaving their districts due to school choice and charter choice, administrators in both districts expressed concern about being further de-stabilized by charter competition at the elementary level. In Barnstable, an unfortunate charter lottery drawing could easily have forced closure of yet another elementary school.
Another choice denied to Cape Cod students
Proponents of Sea Star Charter sought to provide yet another choice for parents seeking different venues for their children’s education. Friday they posted the following statement on their Facebook page:
We just received word that we are not being invited to submit a full application to DESE for Sea Star Charter School. After more than a year of tireless work, we are deeply disappointed.
At this time we do not know the reasons that our prospectus was not accepted. DESE will be sending us a package with reviewer comments, and areas of strengths and weaknesses in our prospectus.
The prospectus was evaluated on its merits alone, not on any public comment or pressure.
We continue to be proud of Sea Star Charter School of Cape Cod and passionate about our commitment to best practices for all children.
We want to thank you so much for all your support. We shared a vision that we believe is in the best interest of all children. We will be forever grateful for your passion, commitment to, and support of our endeavor.