Monday, September 13, 2021

Charter school application in Worcester

 It has been awhile since this has happened: the latest round of charter school applications includes one in Worcester (h/t to the MTA on this one, by the way; I still can't find this on DESE's website).

 The Ubuntu Excellence for All STEAM School is described as:

The Ubuntu Excellence for All STEAM School’s purpose is to serve historically marginalized students of immigrant families and families of African diaspora interested in STEAM. African diasporic communities in urban cities are often economically or socially oppressed and consist of Black and Brown families who continue to be underserved by the traditional public school system.

It would be, at its fullest extent, a PreK-12 518 student body; it would open K-7, then add PreK and 8, then a grade in high school a year. 

The primary applicant is Dr. Regine Philippeaux, who (interestingly) is the current Deputy Chief of Equity and Strategy for Boston Public Schools, the creator of the Boston Public Schools Excellence for All program, and lives in Upton. The two primary writers, Toni-Ann Williams and Rachel Jules, respectively, per the application, a special education teacher and the current program manager for Excellence for All, live respectively in Mattapan and Dorchester. 

While the school is being applied for in Worcester--which, as I believe I've noted, is back on the lowest performing 10% list as of 2019, and, with the freezing of the list, is on for this year again--I remember being concerned that just this would happen...--the application is a regional one which also includes Mendon-Upton, Hopedale, Milford, Millbury, West Boylston, Sutton, Grafton, Leicester. Worcester also has not hit the spending cap, which, as it is a lowest performing 10% district, has now been bumped to 18% of district net school spending; it was 9% when we were not in that lowest performing group. Such things, one notes, have consequences.

Boston, incidentally, is within 0.5% of its 18% cap; while it, per the February update from DESE, has a fairly complicated methodology going on around adding students, it's not a good prospect for a full school expansion. 

Because Worcester has always funded at net school spending, the balance of making the funding of a charter school in Worcester work has always been dicey--see Spirit of Knowledge, for example. Remember, however, that this school would be opening as the Student Opportunity Act will be boosting funding. 

The other schools applying--there are three--are two in New Bedford and one in Newton. 

I am sure more is to come on this. 

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