2nd charter school moves forward

Board OKs agreement for Monarch's fall opening

January 25, 2009|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

A new charter school in Anne Arundel County has passed the last major hurdle in its path toward opening, with the school board's unanimous approval of a charter agreement outlining its operating responsibilities and relationship with the school department.

The Monarch Academy Public Charter School, which plans to open its doors in Glen Burnie next fall with about 200 students in kindergarten, first and fifth grades, has also received the necessary state aid to start the school: a $550,000 grant from the Maryland State Department of Education, said Dennis Adams, president of the school's board. The county school board must still approve the school's lease, which is likely to happen at its next meeting early next month.

"We believe the lease is appropriate and adequate to support the agreement with Monarch," Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell said.

Victor E. Bernson, a school board member from Millersville who initially raised questions about the structure of the school, voted for the charter agreement at last week's school board meeting and said, "Ninety-eight, 99 percent of the lease is what we expected it to be and is perfectly acceptable."

The Children's Guild, a Baltimore-based organization that specializes in teaching emotionally disturbed children, will manage Monarch Academy. It had already pledged $750,000 toward the school and has secured a commitment from a local bank for $1.1 million in funding. Like all charter schools, Monarch will operate independently with a mix of public and private funds, but it must follow state and county school laws and regulations. It will also receive county funding based on the number of students enrolled, which is about $11,000 per student.

"It's great," Adams said after the vote, adding that the next steps for the school will be to ready the site, hire staff and recruit students. He said the school has already prepared a "major marketing campaign" to attract students.

Monarch will be the second charter school in the county, alongside Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School in Hanover. CSPPCS is currently on probation after failing to adhere to some of the school system's standards in special education and administrative matters.

Another school, KIPP Harbor Academy, opened in 2005 but closed two years later.

The Monarch school, which will be inside an office park at 6730 Meadow Drive, will have an option in its lease to acquire more space as it grows.

The addition of another charter school in the county has been a goal of Maxwell's, providing public school students and their parents with choice and preventing students from being lured to private schools. The Children's Guild, which operates a program from space at Annapolis Middle School, submitted its plans for Monarch to the superintendent in August.

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