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Public charter school planned - MyEasternShoreMD: News From The Dorchester Star

Public charter school planned

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Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 1:00 am

CAMBRIDGE Plans for a school that will "instill high standards of academic scholarship, integrity and responsible citizenship" were discussed here last week in an effort to create the Dorchester Preparatory Public Charter School.

Maryland Eastern Shore Charter School Alliance Founder William Akridge and retired Caroline County educator Dale Brown held meetings Thursday and Saturday in Cambridge to explain where they are in the process of creating what would be the Eastern Shore's first charter school.

For information about plans for a charter school in Dorchester County, including the concept proposal and draft application, visit the Maryland Eastern Shore Charter School Alliance website at mescsa.org and check the resources section.

The MESCSA website opens with a petition to fill out in support of a charter school for Dorchester County.

The concept for a charter school was proposed to the Dorchester County Board of Education in March, Akridge said. A draft application has been submitted for its consideration, with a final application to be submitted in September and the expectation of a decision by the board in December.

If Dorchester's school board gives its approval, the first 52 students of the Dorchester Preparatory Public Charter School could begin sixth grade in September 2013.

"Student achievement is what it's all about," said Akridge. "A teacher should be measured by how much students achieve."

An Oxford resident, Akridge is working with Brown, also an Oxford native who has more than 33 years of experience in education, including 25 years as an administrator. Brown's success stories include accomplishing high achievement at Lockerman Middle School and Federalsburg Elementary School, which had both been troubled by low achievement and behavior problems.

Akridge had been working to improve educational opportunities for youngsters in Vietnam, he said, when he decided to "come home" and make a difference in the lives of U.S. students. Today he is the operations and advancement officer of the Excel Academy Public Charter School in Southeast Washington, D.C.

"A charter school is a public school," Brown said, who could serve as the charter school's director of curriculum and instruction. "It's tuition free and its not selective."

He said if more than 52 students want to attend the first year, the selection will be made by lottery drawing.

"Our charter is our contract with the county," he said. "If a charter school does not succeed, it will be closed down immediately."

Brown said the charter school would provide "a safe, clean, orderly environment," for the development of "independent, life-long learners."

"We want teachers that want to be there," he said. "That want to have students succeed."

Parent involvement is also key to the success of a charter school.

Parents will be expected to bring students to school each day who are well-rested and fed, with completed homework assignments, Akridge said.

Charter school teachers would be paid and employed by Dorchester County Public Schools.

But the charter school does not make use of the public school bus system, requiring students to find their own way to and from school.

The school building also is not the responsibility of the public school system. It will be up to the charter school group to find a location, Akridge said, explaining that a variety of buildings have been repurposed for use as charter schools. It is also likely the school could move to a different building as it grows.

Plans are to start with a sixth grade in 2013, adding seventh grade in 2014 and eighth grade in 2015.

How the school would then expand, Brown said, depends upon community need and interest. It could either continue on, into high school, or begin expanding into an elementary school, working down from fifth grade.

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