Pittsburgh school board rejects 3 charter schools

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The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight rejected three charter school proposals.

The three proposals were Homewood Children's Village Collegiate Charter School, Provident Charter School for Children with Dyslexia and Robert L. Vann Charter School.

All but board member Mark Brentley Sr. voted to deny all three charters. Mr. Brentley opposed denying a charter to Vann.

The outcome mirrored a recommendation by a district review team that concluded the three proposals did not meet all of the items on an evaluation checklist.

During the discussion, board member Regina Holley noted that the Vann supporters have provided additional information. Solicitor Ira Weiss said the full application had to be submitted by Nov. 15, the date set in state charter school law.

The applicants can file an appeal with the state Charter School Appeal Board or resubmit an application to the board.

Charter schools are public schools for which the home school districts pay a fee set by the state. For Pittsburgh residents, the district must pay $12,871 a year for a regular student and $27,924 for one in special education.

For this calendar year, the district has allotted $54.9 million of its $529.1 million budget for more than 3,600 students in charter schools.

As of the official fall enrollment, city residents were enrolled in 30 charter schools, including 10 chartered by the district, 12 chartered by other districts and eight cyber charter schools chartered by the state.

In addition, Propel Schools won approval from the State Charter School Appeal Board to open a charter school in Hazelwood this fall.

Last July, the school board granted a charter to the Hill House Passport Academy Charter School in the Hill District, which is expected to begin enrolling students this year.

Homewood Children's Village, which proposed to operate in several Homewood locations, planned to start with 148 students in grades 6 and 7 and grow to 576 students in the fifth year in grades 6-12 and ultimately to 1,008 students in grades 6-12.

Vann planned to begin with 180 students in K-2, growing to 420 in K-6 in the fifth year in the Strip District and ultimately expanding to K-8. It planned to use the external management company of Athena Community Education Partners to help establish a microsociety curriculum.

Provident Charter School for Children with Dyslexia proposed starting with 96 students in grades 3 and 4 and growing to 336 students in grades 2-8 in the sixth year. The school planned to be in the current site of the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, which is moving to a new building in Cranberry.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.

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