Charter approved for Silver Hill Horace Mann School

By Brenda J. Buote Globe Correspondent  

Chester Mitchell, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, earlier this month approved a charter renewal for the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School. The school opened in Haverhill in 2008 and strives to provide “a thriving learning environment that educates, inspires, challenges, and nurtures the minds and well-being” of its student population, according to Silver Hill’s mission statement. The school serves 579 students in kindergarten through Grade 5. Its charter was renewed with conditions, based on Mitchell’s finding that “while [Silver Hill] is providing a safe and supportive environment for students, the school . . . is not implementing the instructional model as promised in its charter . . . [and] has not consistently demonstrated effective fiscal management.” These findings were noted in a Feb. 8 memo to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In that memo, Mitchell also noted that “due to turnover, the board of trustees [at Silver Hill] has not been able to gain traction, establish effective governing practices, or develop long-term goals for the school.” As a result, five conditions were placed on the school’s charter in the areas of faithfulness to the charter, academic success, and organizational viability. Included among the five conditions: The school was given a Sept. 30 deadline to “engage in training, conducted by an external consultant, accepted by and approved in advance by the department, on the roles and responsibilities of a charter school board of trustees”; and a Dec. 31 deadline to “implement key elements of its educational program model in alignment with its charter or request an amendment to its charter to accurately reflect the school’s educational program.”