Local: Education

Hebrew, Arabic among 11 proposed new charter schools

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Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner

District students soon could be learning their lessons in Hebrew or Arabic, under two proposals to open new public charter schools.

The D.C. Public Charter School Board received 11 applications to open new campuses in the District. That's eight fewer than the 19 of last year, but the range of applications may be more diverse.

The 11 proposals include three adult-education charters, including one virtual school; a K-12 campus that would be partially online; college prep, Montessori, and early-childhood programs; and two schools that separately proposed Hebrew and Arabic language-immersion programs.

"These two language schools, I don't think we've ever had that before -- that's the biggest thing," said Jackie Boddie, the board's school performance officer, also noting a strong need for adult-education programs in the city "Carlos Rosario [International Public Charter School] has a wait list as long as 10 miles, and other adult-ed programs also have wait lists."

The board approved four of last year's 19 proposals, which are set to open in the fall. This year, the charter board oversees 53 public charter schools on 98 campuses; they enroll more than 32,000 children, representing 42 percent of public-school students in the District.

Charter school staff will spend the next five weeks reviewing the applications and interviewing each prospective founder, before holding public hearings March 19 and 20. The board is set to approve the successful applications on April 23. Summaries of each application are available on the board's website.

The Washington, D.C., Clean Energy Adult Public Charter School proposes to serve 175 adults in Ward 5 or 6, while FLOW Public Charter School is looking to serve 450 adults exclusively online. The idea is to not only increase adult literacy, but to prepare them for careers in "green" energy, such as installing solar-thermal energy units.

The D.C. Hebrew Language Public Charter School is looking to open shop in Ward 1, 4 or 5, to 535 students in prekindergarten-8.

The Student Parent Achievement Center of Excellency, or SPACE, hopes to ultimately provide an Arabic immersion program to 840 students in kindergarten-12 on a Ward 3 campus.

"A school with such an international focus will be well situated in Washington, D.C. -- the nation's capital, a city with a significant population of immigrants and international institutions," the application reads.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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Lisa Gartner

Examiner Staff Writer - education
The Washington Examiner