Update on Delaware Charter Schools
At its monthly meeting last week, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware State Board of Education approved four new charter schools, for a total of approximately 2,360 seats. Three of the schools are expected to open in fall 2015, and one is expected to open in fall 2016.
Delaware STEM Academy will serve high school students with an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and plans to open in fall 2015. The school will offer college preparatory as well as vocational training. Students will be introduced to engineering principles in a project-based learning environment and work in environmental and energy studies to prepare for increasing opportunities in the new economy. The Delaware STEM Academy is looking for facilities within the City of Wilmington, eastern New Castle, and Delaware City. The geographic region will encompass the Rt 9, Rt 13, Rt 40 and I-95 area between the City of Wilmington and Delaware City.
Freire Charter School* will serve students in grades 8-12 with a college preparatory curriculum with a focus on individual freedom, critical thinking, and problem solving in an environment that emphasizes the values of community, teamwork, and nonviolence. The school plans to locate in downtown Wilmington and to serve students from the city of Wilmington. Freire Charter School currently serves 1,000 students in grades 5-12 in Philadelphia and plans to adapt its model to serve students in Wilmington, with plans to open in fall 2015.
Great Oaks Charter School will serve students in grades 6-12 in the city of Wilmington. The school model features “high-dosage tutoring” provided one-on-one by recent college graduates. Great Oaks has a three-part mission: to prepare students for college success, to train highly effective classroom teachers, and to invest in the communities in which our schools operate. Great Oaks currently operates schools in Newark, NJ, and New York, NY, and will bring its model to Delaware, planning to open in fall 2015.
Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall plans to open in fall 2016, as an Expeditionary Learning elementary school serving students in grades K-5. Children will be encouraged to use creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration to be inspired innovators, learning and leading both locally and globally. The school will be affiliated with the Town of Whitehall, a planned community of Whitehall Venture Partners, located south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in New Castle County.
In addition to the approval of these new charter schools, Secretary Murphy and the State Board of Education voted to place two previously-approved charter schools under formal review. Academia Antonia Alonso and the Delaware Met school were placed under formal review over concerns of low enrollment and financial viability. The schools will undergo a formal review process, with a final decision expected by the June meeting of the State Board of Education.
*Rachel Wiggans worked at Freire Charter School in Philadelphia as the Director of Research and Quality Assessment prior to joining the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.