Board set to vote on 2 new charter schools

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Two more charter schools are expected to be on the agenda for approval at the School Board’s February meeting, CPS officials report.

In December, the board was expected to grant up to half of 13 new charter slots available in Chicago. But only two, Namaste School in McKinley Park and the Chicago Mathematics and Science Academy in Rogers Park, were approved and are expected to open in the fall.

Thirteen applications were rejected because of financial, curricular or management deficiencies, or because the parent institution did not have a site to house the charter. Six organizations withdrew their applications. Organizations that were turned down will get the chance to reapply during the next application period, running from May through July.

CPS officials say the number of denials should not come as a surprise, because the Board has set high standards for charters. “We learned from experience that to approve a school, the proposal has to be good all across the board,” says Greg Richmond, chief officer of new school development.

“It doesn’t work to fix things after approval and make up the plan as you go along,” Richmond says.

The two charters approved in December were adequately prepared, he says. “Each had a clear educational vision, a strong curricular and assessment plan and all the other pieces that are necessary to exist.”

Richmond is leaving the door open for operators who are willing to reapply. “Some had some really neat ideas, and we don’t want to lose that. We’ve encouraged them to keep working and to come back once they rework the lacking areas.”