Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

November 14, 2013

Charter school faces foes

School Committee opposes STEAM Studio proposal

(Continued)

Member Annie Gilbert said significant strides have been made district-wide over the last several years to improve technology at all Andover public schools, both in terms of infrastructure and in-class application.

She said those advances can especially be seen in the course makeup at Andover High, where the number of engineering and computer science classes and the students who are taking them has tripled in just the last year.

Gilbert said Birnbach’s approach of spearheading program initiatives differs from the majority of the School Committee’s philosophy of “supporting the work that’s coming up from the bottom, from your staff, and developing and supporting a culture that will create more of that and fuel itself.”

“That’s where, I think, the School Committee wants to go,” she said.

While the School Committee has taken its position on the subject, next week’s hearing with the state is aimed at giving the public — and only the public — a chance to comment, Considine said.

“This is not an opportunity for presentations. This isn’t an opportunity to persuade the board members in attendance,” Considine said. “There’s no back and forth. There’s no questions asked or answered.”

The hearing is “one part of a more comprehensive process that includes additional written testimony,” interviews with proposal proponents and more ahead of the department’s final decision, which will come in February, Considine said.

Anyone who is unable to attend next week’s hearing or would prefer not to speak in public can submit written comments through Jan. 3 to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Charter School Office, 75 Pleasant St., Malden 02148 or by email to charterschools@doe.mass.edu.

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