Board to vote on proposed charter school expansion

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Education met Monday to discuss a proposal from five of the state’s charter schools to expand and accept more students next year.

Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is recommending that officials approve the plan, and said it will be up for a vote next Monday.

For more than a decade, kids in Rhode Island have had to apply and win a lottery to be accepted at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket. It stands in the top 11% of schools in the state, according to Principal Michael Skeldon, who says they’re now hoping to expand to 6th, 7th and 8th grade – eventually adding 150 students.

“Instead of getting them at 9th grade, we get them at 6th grade, and we’re able to really work on skills, in particular reading, writing, and math, in order to be able to prepare them for high school, and therefore better prepare them for college.”

Beacon is one of five charter schools asking the school board for permission to add nearly 700 more seats next year. Stephen Nardeli, Executive Director for the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, says this is a positive step.

“They’re great schools. I think parents should look into charter schools if that’s the best option for their child,” he said.

Skeldon said it’s not about growing his school, it’s about giving students a stronger education earlier in life.

“We know we can do better. We know we can do more. This is that more.”

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