New Castle News

Local News

January 5, 2013

New Castle board to address charter school plan

NEW CASTLE — New Castle Area School Board members will host discussions next week about a charter school proposal for  their jurisdiction.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday as a committee of the whole to gather information and discuss the application of the New Castle Arts Charter Academy to open a charter school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The board will follow those discussions with a public hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the board meeting room.

Potential sites identified for locating the school include the former Day’s Inn property downtown or in the building that has housed the New Castle Regional Ballet.

Fine arts and foreign languages will be emphasized in  addition to regular curriculum.

The district received the charter school’s application on Nov. 15. Members of its founding management team, according to the application, include: Debra A. Rice of Pittsburgh, Timothy Moses of New Castle, Leslie Anders of North Versailles, Pa., Angelo Mazzocco of Lewis Center, Ohio, David Thor of Pittsburgh, Dominique Karis of Ellwood City and Kimberly B. Kollar-Jones of New Castle.

The district has 45 days from the time of application to schedule at least one public hearing, district solicitor Charles Sapienza explained following a board meeting last month.

He said he had discussions with the applicant’s legal counsel, Joshua Pollack, who agreed to an extension of the 45 day limit. However, once the district conducts the hearing or hearings, the district must decide on the application within 45 to 75 days of the hearing, with the decision stated in writing.

The clock for the public hearing, the attorneys agreed, would start ticking on Dec. 30, with Feb. 13 as the 45th day and March 15 as the 75th day. The board would have to render a decision by March 15, Sapienza said.

The reason for the board’s delay in scheduling the hearing was because the application had been submitted to Superitendent George Gabriel, who was waiting for the board’s reorganizational meeting Dec. 5 to present the plans.

 Gabriel at that time was off unexpectedly for medical reasons, and the board first learned of the charter school after seeing publicity about it, according to former board president Alan Joseph. Joseph said that he immediately added it to the superintendent’s agenda in December to present to the board.

However, at their regular meeting last month board members said they needed more information and instructed Sapienza to look into the deadlines and gather more facts about the laws for the board.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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