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Site location unknown for new charter school

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday granted a charter to the founders of the Pioneer Charter School of Science,  but it may not be located in Saugus as expected.

Dominic Slowey, Pioneer spokesman, said the school is considering two sites, in Saugus and in Peabody. He said it had hoped to open at the former Weylu’s restaurant on Route 1 north in Saugus, but no deal was finalized.

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The new school will draw students from Danvers, Lynn Peabody, Saugus, and Salem.

Like the original Pioneer school in Everett, the curriculum at the school will emphasize math, science, and analytical thinking, offering a strong foundation in the humanities. It will offer extended days and hours as well as career-oriented college preparation. It is expected to open in September.

The Pioneer Charter School of Science II will serve 180 students  in grades 7, 8, and 9 its first year. It will seek to add grades iand be fully enrolled in September 2016, serving 360 in grades 7 to 12.  “We will be recruiting from now until March 14, when our public lottery will be held,” said Slowey.

Charter public schools are open to all and admission is by lottery. They are overseen by the state education department and must adhere to strict standards of academic achievement and financial management.

In its first year, the new school will have no financial impact on the local school districts, since the state will reimburse the districts 100 percent of any funds that follow students to the charter school. Partial reimbursements to districts will continue for five years.

Students who enroll in the new school will have a 200-day calendar, 20 days more than traditional public schools, and extended days, classes starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 3:35 p.m. The school will have tutoring until 4:30 p.m., homework makeup until 5:30 p.m., and voluntary Saturday classes for extra support.

The board last week also approved expansion requests for 11 existing charter schools, including two north of Boston.

The Community Day Charter Public School-Prospect, which enrolls Lawrence children, will add 69 seats to its maximum of 331 students in kindergarten to Grade 8. The Excel Academy Charter School-Chelsea, with a current maximum of 224 students in grades 5 to 8, will add grades 9 to 12 and double  enrollment.

State Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester approved a five-year charter extension for Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden. The school, which serves students in kindergarten to Grade 12 from Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Wakefield, was denied its bid to add 400 to its 1,500 enrollment cap.

The Pioneer charter in Everett, with grades 7-12 from Chelsea, Everett, and Revere, was denied its bid to include kindergarten to Grade 6 and increase enrollment from 360 to 780.

Brenda J. Buote may be reached at
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