26 February 2010

Charter school passes latest test

The final votes are in, and the York Academy Regional Charter School passed. York City School District's 9-0 vote this week means the charter school application was accepted by all three districts that heard the application. As we've said before, school districts typically don't support charter schools, because there is some cost to the district. So to be approved by three districts by a total vote of 24-3, with two unanimous approvals and the support of the city district, is really groundbreaking for charter schools in Pennsylvania.

The votes represent the green light needed for the effort to move forward. That means the YorkCounts committee working on the charter school can proceed to the next phase, which will include marketing and funding issues.

On the topic of marketing, the school now has a bare-bones Web site, http://www.yorkarcs.org/, which recaps the background on the effort to establish a regional charter school in York. Two key points to note:

1. The social problems that weigh on a school district with high poverty rates - York City's is 85 percent - reduce student achievement, which in turn drives away families looking for a quality education for their children.
2. Given that only one county school district is ranked in among the top 100 in the state, there is room for innovation and improvement.

We've been hearing regularly from parents who are curious about the new school. With these school board votes behind us, more information for the broader community will be available soon. Keep checking back to the York Academy Web site or our site, http://www.yorkcounts.org/.

And don't forget to mark your calendar: Our annual summit is 9 a.m. to noon Friday, March 26, at Penn State York's Pullo Center. The agenda includes an update on the charter school and the United Way's Stay in School Initiative. The keynote speaker is Lynn Cummings, a community organizer and co-founder of Neighbors Empowering Pennsauken. Her work was featured in a documentary called "The New Neighbors," which has aired on public television stations around the country.

- Dan Fink