Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 2, 2014

2014 spotlight shines on schools

AHS expansion hinges on charter school decision

By this time next year, Bancroft Elementary School will have a new home, its old one reduced to rubble. A road map for a possible high school expansion will be laid out. A charter school proposal will either be picking up steam ... or long since dead.

For all intents and purposes, 2014 will be the year of the school in Andover.

As the new year arrives, several school-related projects are in motion — either already under way or still in the dream phase.

“There are a range of things that the schools will have to address during the course of the year,” said School Committee Chairman Dennis Forgue, who will be wrapping up his tenure on the board this spring. “Who knows if any of these become more important than the other.”

Forgue said the items facing school leadership are “the budget, contract negotiations, opening Bancroft, continued academic innovations at the high school (and) potential space plans for the high school.”

Then there’s STEAM Studio.

Unlike the other stories heading into 2014, a charter school proposal led in part by School Committee member David Birnbach could see an early end. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to either award or deny a charter for the proposed school in February. The deadline for the public to offer comment on the 425-student charter high school is Friday, Jan. 3. From there, Andover then waits for the state to make its decision.

If it doesn’t receive its charter, Birnbach said the group driving it would “have to reassess what the plans would be going forward.”

“We haven’t really looked beyond that,” he said. “We’re working toward success right now.”

If the charter is awarded, “we’ll have a home for the school by February,” Birnbach said. “We’ll have students able to register as of March 1.”

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