The Pioneer Charter School of Science (PCSS) in Everett recently filed applications with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to open three new charter public schools, one of which would serve Wakefield students, according to a press statement.
In an email to Melrose Patch, PCSS spokesperson Katie Fryman said a location for the school to serve students in and around that town has yet to be determined and won't be until the school receives state approval.
"Charters either lease or buy an existing facility (there is no school building assistance from the state)," Fryman wrote. "The location is unknown because you can't get a facility until a charter is approved."
The new schools, if approved by the state, would serve students in Grades 7-12 in Greater Lowell, the North Shore and communities just north of Boston, read the statement.
“PCSS has become one of the highest performing public schools not only in the Greater Boston area but in the entire state," said Barish Icin, Executive Director of PCSS, in the statement. “We are excited about the prospect of replicating our successful model and providing more families in more communities access to a high quality educational alternative.”
Each of the new schools would serve 360 students in Grades 7-12: PCSS-II would enroll students from Saugus, Lynn, Salem, Peabody and Danvers; PCSS III would serve Lowell, Dracut, Tewksbury, Billerica, Chelmsford and Tyngsborough; PCSS IV would accept children from Woburn, Stoneham, Medford, Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus.
PCSS is also seeking to expand its school in Everett, which currently serves 360 students in Grades 7-12 from Everett, Revere and Chelsea, to include grades Pre-K-6.
This is the first step in a long process to possible approval. Pioneer’s application will be reviewed by the DESE and if it meets the state’s stringent criteria will be allowed to proceed to a final review phase in the fall. Next February, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote to approve or deny the applications. If approved, PCSS-II would open in September 2013; PCSS-III & IV would open in September 2014.
Charter public schools are open to all children and admission is by random lottery, read the statement. They are overseen by the state education department and must adhere to strict standards of academic achievement and financial management, read the statement. They are funded by reallocating funds to charters when districts lose students. While districts are no longer educating these students, they are still paid for them by the state for six years after the students transfer to charters under a reimbursement program.
Districts receive all their state education funding the first year they lose students and 25 percent for each of the next five years. This reimbursement helps cushion the financial impact of the lost students.
PCSS provides a rigorous academic curriculum emphasizing math, science and analytical thinking skills balanced by a strong foundation in the humanities in order to prepare students for success in college and in their careers. The school offers extended days/hours and career oriented college preparation, and features strong student-teacher-parent collaboration.
PCSS students must pass five math and five science classes in order to graduate, more than state standards. Students must also complete 40 hours of community service, read the statement. The school has a 200-day school calendar, extended days (7:30 a.m.-3:35 p.m.), tutoring until 4:30 p.m., homework detention until 5:30 p.m. and “voluntary” Saturday classes for students who need extra help.
Many of the students come to PCSS with subpar MCAS scores and thrive in this environment, read the statement. Additionally, the school employs data-informed decision making assessing student performance eight times throughout the school year in all core subjects to identify and address weaknesses in academic performance, according to the statement.
To help students balance their coursework with extracurricular activities the school offers many different clubs, events, activities and sports, according to the statement. All-school activities include a science fair with judges from the community and local colleges such as MIT and Boston College.
PCSS graduated its first class this summer; thirty-four seniors received more than $3.2 million in scholarships and will attend top schools such as Columbia, Brandeis University Boston College.
PCSS opened in 2007 and was renewed by the state last year receiving high marks for its academic program, according to the statement. Charters must be renewed every five years by the state.
MCAS scores have consistently shown PCSS students surpassing both state and district averages in all subjects and grades, read the statement. According to the statement, in 2011 MCAS, PCSS:
- Placed in the Top 25 percent of schools statewide based on percentage of students who scored proficient or advanced in English in grades 7 (89 percent), 8 (97 percent) and 10 (96 percent) and in math in grades 7 (68 percent), 8 (82 percent) and 10 (96 percent)
- 26 percent more students scored proficient or advanced in English and 37% in math compared to sending district averages (across all grades)
- 41 percent more low-income students scored proficient or advanced in English and 37% in math compared to low-income students in sending district schools (across all grades)
- Achieved “High Growth” status for grades 8 and 10 in English and grades 7, 8 and 10 in math based on the state’s “Growth Model” which measures student academic progress
- Achieved the highest Growth Model score in the state for Grade 8 math
- Was named a “commendation school” by the state for narrowing achievement gaps among low-income and minority students.
For more information about PCSS, visit the Pioneer Charter School of Science website.