Amherst Select Board urges state to reject Chinese school expansion

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2017 11:44:06 PM

AMHERST — A proposed enrollment expansion of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, rejected by the state in February, is again being opposed by the Select Board.

The board on Monday voted unanimously, 4-0, with member James Wald absent, to send a letter to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education by the Dec. 15 deadline objecting to the charter school’s request to add up to 452 students.

In a 7-2 decision, the state board voted down the enrollment increase proposal, but in August the charter school announced it would try again.

The Select Board opposed the expansion the first time around.

“The reason to expand aren’t supported and, to our knowledge, PVCICS has not taken substantive action to address your concerns,” the Select Board’s letter reads.

PVCICS is already authorized to have its enrollment increased to 584 students, and with the additional slots could have a population of up to 1,036 students.

The Select Board joins the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee in opposition. That committee last month came out unanimously against the expansion.

The committee provided guidance to the Select Board, which was appreciated by member Alisa Brewer.

“It was a good letter to base ours off of,” Brewer said.

Among concerns outlined in the letter is that the charter school is not doing enough to meet the needs of underserved students, that there are inadequate services for English language learners and students with 504 plans and special education, and the expansion wouldn’t increase the diversity of the school.

Last month, Amherst Town Meeting approved a resolution calling on state officials to not allow any new charter schools or permit expansion of existing ones until the funding formula that provides these schools their operating budgets is adjusted.

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