Blackstone Valley Prep, a mayoral academy based in Cumberland, will receive $2.2 million from the Charter School Growth fund to help pay for a planned expansion. Blackstone Valley Prep currently runs two elementary schools and a middle school, serving students from Cumberland, Central Falls, Pawtucket and Lincoln.
Blackstone Valley Prep plans to open its first high school in 2014. The Charter School Growth fund says it selected the school because it has high test scores, and the organization wanted to help Blackstone Valley Prep expand to seven schools, which will eventually serve more than 2,000 students.
School officials from Blackstone Valley Prep say they were thrilled to learn about the grant.
Critics of Blackstone Valley Prep say the schools use a rigid, highly structured classroom environment that is not a good fit for all children. They also point out the schools divert money from other public schools and do not have to follow prevailing wage laws or make contributions to the state’s pension fund for teachers.