New city schools approved to open next year

The Baltimore City school board approved Tuesday the opening of four new schools in the 2011-2012 school year.

Three charter schools and one transformation school will join the rapidly increasing number of alternative and themed-curriculum options for students. The city has 29 charter schools and 13 transformation schools, the majority of which have been opened during city schools CEO Andrés Alonso's three-year tenure.

Nine school applications went before the school board, which voted to approve recommendations made by Alonso and the city's Charter School Committee. Applicants went through a vetting process with the city's Office of New Initiatives, which scored the schools in an extensive rubric, including ratings of the school's mission and its academic models.

The new charter schools approved to open in the district next year include the Monarch Academy, which would host kindergarten through eighth grades and include a project-based learning model, and Roots and Branches school, which would host kindergarten through fifth grades and integrate the arts into a curriculum focus on science, technology and engineering.

"We're just so excited for the children of Baltimore," said Jenifer Shaud, one of the founders of Roots and Branches.

An existing city school, Furman L. Templeton Elementary School, was also granted charter status. The school will open next year as Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy, which will focus on "preparing youth for the 21st century" by integrating technology into its curriculum.

One transformation program — the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys — was approved by the board. Transformation programs, also called secondary schools, are required to serve grades six through 12 and offer a college-preparatory, career pathway or accelerator program. The Collegiate School will host a college-preparatory program.

Three charter schools did not make the cut, including two proposed single-gender high schools, primarily because their proposals were incomplete, said Tammie Knight of the Office of New Initiatives.

E Teach Prep Academy, an all-male high school that would focus on national and international business failed to garner the recommendation of the schools chief, as did Rare Jewels Academy, a proposed all-girls school for students grades nine through 12 that would focus on producing more female professionals in science and engineering careers.

"We're passionate, and there's still a need," said Sharon McClain-Gibson, who sought to start Rare Jewels. "We'll submit another one."

An elementary and middle school charter school, The Baltimore Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academy, was also rejected.

Applications for two transformation programs were also rejected. They were Global Purpose Academy, a career-oriented school for boys, and The Nursing Academy of Baltimore, which had a mission of preparing students for nursing careers.

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