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December 10, 2012

New Castle board to consider charter proposal

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle school board expects to address a request for a new charter school this week.

The New Castle Arts Charter Academy has applied to the city school district for establishing a kindergarten through eighth-grade charter school that will offer fine arts and foreign languages as part of its curriculum.

The district has 45 days to act on the application, according to Debra Rice of Oakdale, a former West Pittsburg resident and organizer of the prospective school.

While charter schools are operated by their own boards, the law requires them to be chartered by the local school district.

The district’s approval is necessary because it would be the “feeder” district for the charter program, Rice explained. Students who live in the New Castle district would have first priority over other districts in attending, she said.

STRUCTURING

According to Rice, a group of interested parties researched the Pittsburgh area and narrowed the proposed school location to New Castle.

The charter school would be limited the first year to accepting students for kindergarten through third grade. Then one grade level per year would be added after that, up to eighth grade, Rice said.

She said the school would offer visual arts, music, dance and theater woven into the required academics. Spanish would be taught in kindergarten through eighth grade, and students in grades six, seven and eight would be taught Chinese.

Charter organizers include people from the New Castle area, Rice said. She would not provide names of the others involved without their consent.

They are considering two locations — the former Day’s Inn and Centre downtown or a building on West Washington Street that has been home to the New Castle Regional Ballet.

Rice said there have been no discussions with district administrators so far.

Charter school tuition would come from the school district’s budget — local and state revenues, which include tax dollars and annual state subsidies, New Castle’s business manager Joseph Ambrosini explained.

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