Detailed plans released for proposed York charter school

Andrew Shaw
The York Dispatch

(Editor's note: This story was originally published on Nov. 19, 2008)

School officials from Lincoln-Edison Charter School revamped their charter application for a middle school to avoid getting turned down by York City school board again, according to Lincoln's board president Oscar Rossum Sr.

Rossum said the school would be located at the old state police barracks at 1195 Roosevelt Ave. The school's theme would be "Homeland Security."

Lincoln already operates an elementary school but wants to expand with a middle school.

Rossum said it would be named after Helen Thackston, an educational leader in York City history.

York City board members said Lincoln's initial application, turned down on a 5-4 vote earlier this year, didn't prove the middle school's curriculum would be unique and didn't prove Lincoln had a suitable long-term site location.

Both are requirements by the state in order to get a charter approved. A charter

school operates independently but is funded by the home school district.

Second chance: The new application, filed on Friday, is much more in-depth and provides more concrete details of Lincoln's plans, according to Rossum.

Being turned down the first time, and then again on a state appeal this summer, was a "blessing in disguise," he said.

"Our second application caused us to look at things much deeper," Rossum said.

Rossum said Lincoln officials have a letter of agreement with property owners of land adjacent to the old police barracks. A new building would have to be constructed for the middle school, Rossum said. It would be paid for using grants and loans obtained by Lincoln.

Until construction is completed, the middle school would operate with a reduced student capacity at the site of Manito Day Treatment Services, an alternative school at 624 E. Philadelphia St. That building is capable of accommodating the Manito students and the charter school students.

Issues addressed?: York City board Vice President Tom Foust, who opposed the previous application, said it appears Lincoln has addressed some of the lingering issues.

He added, however, that Lincoln still would have to go through land development and financial negotiations before the building is guaranteed.

Rossum hopes to get the middle school operating at its temporary home by the fall. The York City district has up to 45 days to hold a public hearing on the application.

Unique program: If approved, Rossum said the new school's Homeland Security program would be one-of-a-kind in the state. The idea wasn't thought of by Lincoln board members until after the first application was turned down for being too generic.

"It forced us to dig a little deeper on what we really wanted in the first place," Rossum said.

Students would receive training and instruction on topics such as emergency response, computer security and legal issues related to Homeland Security.

"This is where we are today, post Sept. 11," Rossum said. "We want to get kids hands-on experiences. ... This also gives our community an opportunity to be involved."

Lincoln's elementary school has test scores ranking in the top of all York City elementaries.

Board President Jeanette Torres could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. The board meets Wednesday night and will discuss the application, Foust said.