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Achievement First hearing take 3

June 9, 2011

Parents will have another chance to weigh in this evening on a new charter school proposal for Providence and Cranston.

Achievement First has applied to open an elementary school in Cranston in the fall and a second elementary school the following year. The schools would serve a total of 920 students by 2016 and would be “Mayoral Acadmies,” a special category of charter schools that is not subject to prevailing wage laws and does not have to pay into the state pension plan.

The proposal has generated intense opposition from some parents and teachers, who have seen schools close and popular programs fall to the budget axe in recent years. Those opponents say it does not make sense to open new schools while existing public schools struggle to maintain and improve school quality.

Charter school advocates say Achievement First has a strong record of raising student achievement in places like New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut. They also point out that both Providence and Cranston stand to see their state funding increase by millions of dollars over the next few years under the state’s new school funding formula.

The full Achievement First proposal envisions a total of five schools that would serve 1,800 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Half of the students would come from Providence and half from Cranston. The addition of two middle schools and a high school would be subject to state approval when the initial charter comes up for review in 2016.

State education officials are expected to vote on the proposal later this month or early next month.

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