secondary education

Providence mayoral academy gets preliminary OK

The state Board of Regents voted 'yes' to the opening of a mayoral academy in Providence that would be run by Achievement First, a four-city network of academies.
Posted 2/3/12

(Updated, 3 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – The state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education gave preliminary approval Thursday to open a mayoral academy in Providence.

The academy would be run by Achievement First, a network founded in 1998 that now runs 20 academies under 10 charters in four cities.

The local academy would serve Cranston, North Providence, Providence and Warwick and has a scheduled start date of the 2013-2014 school year. It would serve approximately 176 kindergarten and first grade students in its first year, Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now Executive Director Maryellen Butke said to Providence Business News.

With this preliminary approval - which is a “huge hurdle,” Butke said - the academy can hire a school principal and look for a location. In the spring of 2013, the academy would request final approval.

According to Rhode Island’s school funding formula, passed about two years ago, the money follows the student to the public school of his/her choice, said Butke, explaining the academy’s financing. Every child has an amount of money connected to him/her for the basic education program and the amount varies by community, she said.

The venture garnered support from state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist and Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee.

The RI-CAN, founded in 2010 and part of the nonprofit, nationwide 50CAN, celebrated the Board of Regents’ decision.

“This was a yes vote for the basic belief that every Rhode Island kid should have the chance to attend a great public school no matter their zip code,” she said. “Today’s decision … keeps Rhode Island public schools on an upward trajectory. Hundreds of kids will now be put on a path to college, their lives changed forever.”

Butke said RI-CAN started its campaign for the school nine months ago and that more than 150 phone calls, 400 petitions signatures and 800 emails were sent to public officials.

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