Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Charter Schools Hoping to Take Wing in City, County Four in Pittsburgh, Six Others Apply to Open Next Fall

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Charter Schools Hoping to Take Wing in City, County Four in Pittsburgh, Six Others Apply to Open Next Fall

Article excerpt

As many as four new charter schools could open in Pittsburgh next fall, and others are in the works for elsewhere in Allegheny County.

By last week's deadline, Pittsburgh Public Schools had received applications for four new bricks-and-mortar charter schools.

At least six other proposed charter schools elsewhere in the county -- including Duquesne, Sto-Rox, North Hills and Wilkinsburg - - also are in various stages of planning for next fall.

Charter schools are operated by their own boards but must be chartered by the local school district or, in the case of a cyber charter school, by the state.

The state has 16 full-time cyber charter schools, and eight new ones have applied for fall. The state Department of Education has scheduled hearings on them in Harrisburg next week.

Home school districts pay a fee for each resident who attends a charter school.

The new applications come as some school districts struggle to make charter school payments.

Not counting cyber charter schools, Pittsburgh already has eight charter schools. That includes Propel Northside. Propel Schools operates eight other charter schools outside the city in the county.

The district expects to spend $52.4 million on charter schools, including cyber schools, inside and outside the city.

The number of city students in charter schools grew from 1,262 in fall 2004 to 3,414 in fall 2012.

One of the city applicants, Propel Hazelwood, which plans to offer a K-8 program in a closed Catholic school building, already has been the subject of a public hearing. It would start with 300 students in K-6 and grow to 420 in K-8.

The city school board has until its January meeting to decide whether to grant the charter.

The other three in the city are:

* Computing Workshop Charter School in the workshop's space on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, aimed at special needs students in grades 5 through 12 and to age 21, beginning with 16 students and growing to 20 students.

* Hill House Passport Academy, in a Bedford Avenue building owned by the Hill House, aimed at dropouts in grades 9-12, beginning with 150 students and growing to 180. It would offer a blended program, with in-person classes half of the day and online instruction on laptops the rest of the day.

* Mount Washington Community Academy Charter School in the building that housed the former St. Mary of the Mount School, later known after a merger as Bishop Leonard St. Mary of the Mount Academy. The charter would be a K-8 school beginning with 256 students and growing to 400.

Other applications that came in were the Leadership Academy for Mathematics and Science Focus, a high school program in Wilkinsburg, and the Power to Learn Charter School of Duquesne, a K-8 school.

The application for the proposed Wilkinsburg charter high school was submitted by Wilkinsburg resident Andre Tucker, who has been trying for four years to charter a school there. …

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