Amherst officials solidify opposition to expansion of Chinese charter school

  • Chia-Wen Huang, a Chinese teacher at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, prepares her classroom for the school year in 2016. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2018 12:20:48 AM

AMHERST — Amherst officials are going on record with their opposition to the requested expansion of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley.

The board voted unanimously in October, with one member absent, to ask the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to deny the charter school’s latest petition for increasing enrollment.

At the final Select Board meeting Nov. 26, members agreed to send a letter to the state board and its commissioner.

In the letter sent to Jeffrey C. Riley, commissioner of elementary and secondary education, and the education board, the Select Board cites concern about the charter school’s demographic composition and attrition rates for subgroups of students already underrepresented at the school.

“The students who do not attend a charter school remain in the community and attend our traditional public schools,” reads the letter, signed by board clerk Andrew Steinberg on behalf of the five members. “The town takes on the added expense to meet their needs, which affects resources for programs that benefit all of our students and adds to the town expense for education.”

The letter’s concerns are identical to ones in similar letters sent Feb. 25, 2017 and Dec. 4, 2017, and consistent with a resolution adopted by Town Meeting in November 2017.

In its latest request, the charter school is asking the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to allow an increase in maximum enrollment from 584 students to 952. The school’s previous requests had asked for a maximum enrollment of 1,036.

“The PVCICS Board of Trustees wishes to make this change to satisfy persistent unmet demand for kindergarten seats, expand opportunity and choice for urban, suburban and rural students to attend desegregated/integrated public schools, and increase the integration of staffing in public education,” the expansion request reads.

The correspondence, which notes that the charter school has not achieved its current maximum enrollment, will also be sent to other elected and appointed officials, including State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, State Rep.-Elect Mindy Domb and State Sen.-Elect Jo Comerford.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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