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Mass. education chief backs 4 new charter schools

Charter school proposals in Boston, Holyoke, Lowell, and Springfield won the endorsement of a top state education official today, moving them one step closer to opening.

Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester recommended that the board of elementary and secondary education grant three commonwealth charters: to the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Holyoke, the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell, and the Baystate Academy Charter School in Springfield. Commonwealth charter schools operate independently from their local school districts.

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Chester also recommended the board issue a Horace Mann charter to the Dudley Street Neighborhood School in Boston. Horace Mann charter schools operate in close coordination with their school districts.

“Massachusetts has a strong charter school accountability system that requires new applicant groups to clearly articulate how they will demonstrate academic success and organizational viability,” Chester said in a statement. “The four groups that I am recommending developed compelling proposals, and if they are granted a charter by the board later this month, I am confident they will be well positioned to improve student outcomes and become successful charter schools.”

Two of the four schools, in Boston and Holyoke, could open as soon as September, while the other two, in Lowell and Springfield, are expected to open for the 2013-14 school year, Chester’s office said in a statement.

The four schools selected were chosen from a field of six final applications submitted in November 2011. In the statement, Chester’s office said the two groups he did not recommend will receive feedback and can apply for a charter again in the future.

The board of elementary and secondary education is expected to vote on Chester’s recommendations on Feb. 28.

Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com.
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