The York City School Board moved another step closer to expanding its charter school offerings on Monday, just days after learning state charter school reimbursement money is likely gone next year.
New Hope Academy had a public hearing to answer last-minute questions before a board vote on Wednesday on whether it can add an elementary school to its current secondary school offering.
The school would be K-5, with an early learning center for preschoolers. It would use the YWCA of York's renovated facility for the first year, and use some of its program offerings.
Board member Aaron Willford Jr. asked New Hope founder Isiah Anderson if the proposed school would be unique, one of the state requirements to get the charter approved.
The new elementary school would have a longer school day than the city schools, and the school would have an anti-bias curriculum theme to promote diversity and acceptance, Anderson said. And, he said, the style of instruction would be different.
"Approach does matter," he said of teaching style.
The board also got together its education committee to ask Helen Thackston Charter school officials preliminary questions about that school's application for a ninth grade addition to its fifth-through eighth-grade levels.
Helen Thackston, operated by Edison Learning, is up to more than 400 students this year, more than double what it had in its first year in 2009-10. It also was the only middle school in the district, charter or non-charter, to meet state test standards last year, a point Helen Thackston board president Oscar Rossum Sr. made.
Rossum said the ninth-grade addition would help students who have been successful at the middle school continue in the same model for a high school year, where they can focus more on their career path. The goal is to eventually add more high school grades, Thackston officials said.
"These are our kids. these are York City children. ... For our program, what we'd like to do is maintain these students so we can keep doing what we've done," Rossum said.
They are still waiting for some final approvals from the city before their new building can be constructed, Thackston officials said. They still hope to have the modular-style building at 1195 Roosevelt Ave. ready by this fall, which would allow them to immediately expand total enrollment above 500.
If it's not ready until late fall, the current facility at 625 E. Philadelphia St. would still be used. The capacity of about 400 couldn't be exceeded, so enrollment of incoming fifth-graders would be limited to accommodate the additional ninth graders, officials said.
The York City School District has four charters - New Hope, Helen Thackston, Crispus Attucks Youthbuild, which is for high school age students, and Lincoln Elementary, which is also run by Edison. Another charter, York Academy Regional Charter School, will open next year.
The district stands to lose nearly $7 million in charter tuition reimbursement, according to the governor's budget proposal. But by state law the board cannot reject any charter application because of financial concerns. The decision must be based on factors such as a school's uniqueness, its ability to adhere to state standards, and its facility quality.
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