Hearings on proposed Kent County charter school set
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is giving the community the opportunity to learn more about and comment on the proposed Kent County Prep Mayoral Academy during two public hearings scheduled for June.
The public hearings will be held on June 16 and June 18 at 6 p.m. at the Coventry Town Hall. The proposed charter school would be open to students from Warwick, West Warwick and Coventry.
On April 1, Rhode Island Mayoral Academies (RIMA), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the growth of mayoral academies in the state, put their support behind the application to create the Kent County Prep charter school, which would serve students in grades 6 through 12.
Following application submission to RIDE, the next step is to hold public hearings allowing community members to learn more about the potential charter schools, which offer high quality educational choices at no cost. Each hearing will feature a 10-minute presentation on the school, followed by public comment for anyone who wishes to speak in favor of or against the application.
“We welcome dialogue and collaboration, and hope families share our excitement about the promise that might be ahead,” said Katelyn Silva, chief communications officer for RIMA, in an email to the Beacon.
If given preliminary approval by the Rhode Island Board of Education this fall, Kent County Prep could begin their planning process later this year. Final approval is given by the Board in early 2015; Kent County Prep aims to open in fall 2015.
The school would open with a total of 144 students in grades 6 and 7, growing to full capacity of 504 students by 2020. Due to RIMA’s policy of taking students equally from rural and urban communities, roughly 50 percent of the school’s population could come from Warwick and West Warwick, with the other 50 percent coming from Coventry.
In the event a public school student decides to attend a charter school, the tax dollars given to a school district to support that student would go to the charter school instead. According to Warwick Schools Chief Budgeting Officer Anthony Ferrucci, the school department paid $10,754 per student for a total of $752,780 for 70 students to attend charter schools across the state for academic year 2013-2014.
What would make Kent County Prep unique is its blended education format, which allows students the opportunity for interactive seminar-style, one-to-one, small group and independent online-based learning in every class in all content areas. The extended school day (8:30 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.) would also feature two periods of both math and English language arts for all students with two teachers in each classroom, mandatory music and computer coding classes, and a model shop with various technologies such as a 3D printer.
Each student would also have a mentor, opportunities for internships to explore interests and passions, and the chance to participate in an early graduation program.
As the only mayor from a sending city or town, Mayor Scott Avedisian has been named the proposed board chair for Kent County Prep, and 2013 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year Jessica Waters has been named as the proposed Head of School. Waters is a chemistry and anatomy teacher at Beacon Charter School for the Arts, a board member of Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, recipient of the 2012 Peter McWalters Professional Educator Award, and a graduate of Rhode Island College.
The complete application for Kent County Prep Mayoral Academy can be viewed online on RIDE’s website at www.ride.ri.gov/Charter-Schools, under the tab titled Charter School Proposals Under Review. Each proposal features a two-page executive summary explaining the highlights of the proposed school.
For those wishing to give their thoughts during one of the two public hearings, a sign-up will be available at the hearings. RIDE will also accept public comments in writing until Aug. 6. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Office of Charter Schools, Rhode Island Department of Education Attn: Charter School Comments at 255 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903.
In total, RIDE received six proposals for new charter schools in the state, and two public hearings are held per proposal.