"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Imagine in MD

Imagine Schools - the very same Virginia-based charter chain at the heart of multiple controversies - recently was awarded a "contract" school in Maryland. Imagine plans to construct a $14 million building, which will be contract out to a developer, Polm Cos. The building will then be leased back to Imagine Schools.
This is all part of something much bigger for Polm Cos. The developer is required to build this new school as part of a 1000 home development near Prince George County.
From the Baltimore Sun:

'Contract' K-8 school set for Laurel

Plan meant to increase choice, ease crowding

By Nicole Fuller | nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

September 6, 2009

Anne Arundel County is planning to build an elementary school in the western part of the county to help ease overcrowding.

The Board of Education gave the school system authority last week to proceed with plans for the county's first "contract" school, which is similar to a charter school but is not bound by state charter school laws and allows the school system to define the attendance parameters of the school. The county's charter schools are open to any student in the county.

The Imagine Global Village Academy Public Contract School, planned as a K-8 school in Laurel to open in 2011, will help alleviate crowding at Brockbridge, Maryland City and Jessup elementary schools and anticipated future attendance increases because of the BRAC resettlement. Imagine Global, a Virginia-based charter school operator, runs 18 schools nationwide with 35,000 students.

Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell, a proponent of school choice, opened a new charter school, Monarch Academy, in Glen Burnie this year. The county's other charter school, Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School, moved to a new building in Hanover this year and the middle school plans to expand to high school next year.

"It provides another avenue of school choice for students in our county," said Bob Mosier, a spokesman for the superintendent. "It's been another collaborative relationship, in which the two parties can move forward with an agreement that will benefit our students."

Imagine plans to hire Washington-based developer Polm Cos. to build the $14 million school at the site of a Moose Lodge on Brock Bridge Road and lease it back to Imagine.

"It's a win-win situation," said Eugene Peterson, a school board member. "The developer gets to win. The county gets to win. And of course, the kids win. I applaud the developer because he's showing you can do well, and at the same time, do good."

The school will offer the county's first elementary school version of the prestigious International Baccalaureate program.

The Brockbridge PTA presented a petition in support of the project to the board. Parents and teachers from Brockbridge, which is an open-space school, have lobbied the school board to enclose the walls, arguing the school's crowding exacerbates the difficulties of an open-space school.

The superintendent also unveiled a $169 million capital budget proposal - about $38 million more than the school system received for construction projects this year - at the recent school board meeting.

On Maxwell's wish list is $32.3 million for the revitalization of Northeast High School, funding for construction projects at eight elementary schools and funding for preliminary design work at another six elementary schools and Severna Park High School.

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