State to Hold Public Hearings on Latest Round of Charter School Applications

May 21, 2014

The Rhode Island Department of Education has scheduled a round of hearings on six new charter schools proposed for the state.

The hearings are intended to gather public input on the proposals, which include two new mayoral academies in Woonsocket and Warwick.

Mayoral academies serve students from multiple districts, which usually include a mixture of urban low-income and suburban communities. They pride themselves on challenging academic programs and promoting college prep even for the youngest students.

Rhode Island's first mayoral academy, Blackstone Valley Prep in Cumberland, boasts impressive test scores.

But mayoral academies have also been controversial because they are exempt from prevailing wage rules for teachers, and do not have to contribute to the state pension fund.

Some parents adamantly opposed a mayoral academy in Cranston, complaining the school would pull funding away from other public schools. Organizers later relocated the proposal and gained approval to open in Providence.

The full schedule of hearings on charter school proposals is available here, just click on the "Charter Schools Under Review Tab."

Some of the other proposals up for public comment include a K-8 school on Aquidneck Island sponsored by the Urban League, a Providence elementary school featuring Chinese language immersion, and an elementary school with a focus on science, technology, engineering, math and the arts.