Chinese immersion school eyes charter renewal, boost in enrollment

  • CAROL LOLLIS Chia-Wen Huang, a Chinese teacher at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, gets her room ready in the new addition.

  • CAROL LOLLISKathleen Wang, the principal at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, stands on a play structure with the new addition to the school in the background.

  • Richard Alcorn

@DHGCrosby
Published: 8/3/2016 1:32:37 PM

HADLEY — A local Chinese-language charter school is pressing onward to expand their student body after the state halted the project in June.

Upon the suggestion of State Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester at the time of the denial, the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School has filed an application for renewal of their charter — with an additional request to increase enrollment.

The tuition-free public charter school wants to increase maximum enrollment from 584 to 968 students, allowing for a financially feasible model in which to build out their high school program. The school currently enrolls roughly 430 students but has run out of space in its 317 Russell St. location to add more.

Advocates for the school traveled 200 miles to Boston in June to make a plea for expansion to the state education board. The school, they said, is one of the Commonwealth’s top performing charter schools with high MCAS scores.

In the past, state education officials have expressed a desire for the school to reach its enrollment limit before they consider approving an increase.

“We are thankful to the state for its support over the years and anticipate the state will wholeheartedly approve our charter renewal request,” said principal Kathleen Wang, in a statement. “Our track record since opening almost a decade ago is one of excellent and high academic achievement.”

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote to renew the charter in early 2017 based on three areas: academic success, organizational viability and faithfulness to its current charter terms.

As part of the renewal process, the school must also provide detailed plans for the years ahead.

Richard Alcorn, the school’s executive direction, said the charter school is committed to providing the best education to all of its students. 

“It’s difficult to not be able to offer students on our waiting list slots,” he said, in announcing the school’s charter renewal request. 

“We offer a top-notch educational program and we would like to give more students the opportunity to enroll.

Sarah Crosby can be reached at scrosby@gazettenet.com.


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