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April 18, 2013

Charter school founders to revise application

NEW CASTLE — Organizers of a proposed charter school for New Castle are returning to the drawing board.

Debra Rice, who has been overseeing the process, said this week the group proposing the fine arts-infused academy will revise its application and resubmit it to the New Castle Area School District.

That resubmittal could be this year, she said.

Revising and resubmitting the application would be the next phase in the process of opening the New Castle Arts Academy Charter School, Rice said.

Under Pennsylvania law, the charter applicant may revise and resubmit its application to the school board after it has been denied.

The school is planned for downtown New Castle, within the city school district.

At two public hearings conducted by the district, the charter school proponents said they are considering one of three locations — the former Day’s Inn and banquet center, the Cascade Galleria or a building on the city’s West Side.

A definite site was not pinpointed during the hearings.

Rice said Monday that by law, there is no deadline for resubmittal of the application. She said the school organizers plan to pinpoint a site in the near future.

As far as a timeline for resubmitting, she said, there is none.

“It would be at our discretion. We’re in no real rush. We want to make this as perfect as possible so they would have no reason to deny it a second time.”

Stanley Magusiak, New Castle’s acting superintendent, said Wednesday he has not heard anything more since the board voted to deny the application.

He said Charles Sapienza, the district’s solicitor, sent the board’s denial resolution to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. That resolution cited shortcomings in the application.

Sapienza said Wednesday he has not received any response or acknowledgment from the department of education.

Magusiak, Sapienza, the business manager and other administrators had perused the plan and cited several pages of what they believe were deficiencies in the charter application. Based on those perceived shortcomings, they made a recommendation to the school board to deny the application.

Those included apparent siting problems, budget issues and curriculum inadequacies, lack of community support, discrepancies in the advisory board and founding member lists and lack of funding allocations for support services.

Rice commented in an email this week that “the charter school is interested in partnering with the district moving forward, and therefore decided that while we do not agree with their assessment that we would address the perceived issues they had identified.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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