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Parkland Denies Circle of Seasons Charter School

School board president says proposed Circle of Seasons Charter School would not meet state standards.

The Parkland School Board denied an application Tuesday night for , a proposed Waldorf-method charter school. 

Board members did not discuss the application prior to the vote, but the district issued a 65-page resolution in support of their decision.

“I cannot ask the taxpayers to fund something that does not meet state standards,” school board President Jayne Bartlett said after the meeting.

Bartlett said the proposal was “ambiguous” about the grade levels that the school would include, its curriculum wouldn’t meet state standards and its administrative staffing would be inadequate.

She also said that proponents of the charter school had not pinned down a location yet for the school.

Phil Arnold, who proposed the charter school, didn’t comment during the meeting. Later he said he needed time to study the resolution before deciding whether to reapply to the Parkland School Board or to appeal the board’s decision to the state Department of Education.

Arnold, who helped establish the Seven Generations Charter School in Emmaus, for Circle of Seasons at a public hearing that the board held in December.  At the time, Arnold said there were two possible locations for the school, the former Penn State building in Fogelsville and the in South Whitehall, with a September 2012 opening.

Arnold said Tuesday he had been waiting for a board decision on the application before deciding how to proceed on the site location.

Bartlett and Superintendent Richard Sniscak thanked members of the district administration and board solicitor Steven Miller for their work on the 65-page resolution that denied the application.

It says, in part:

  • “There is no actual design for the school building.” Arnold confirmed at the public hearing that no sketch plans for a school at Manito Equestrian Center had been presented to South Whitehall Township for review.
  • The proposed charter school’s curriculum for English as a second language is not aligned with state academic standards.
  • The application “fails to identify a written policy aimed at identifying students in need of special education from the general population.”

At the public hearing, Arnold had explained that the Waldorf-method curriculum infuses learning with creativity, incorporating music, arts, drama and creative play. Instead of using conventional textbooks, the school would reinforce what children learn by having them draw a picture about a lesson, for example.

The school board vote to deny the application was 7-0. School board member Mark Hanichak voted by speaker phone. School board member David Kennedy was absent because he is out on medical leave. 

School board member Jef Reyburn arrived too late for the vote, which was taken within the first 10 minutes of the meeting. But after the meeting, Reyburn said he agreed with his fellow board members to deny the application.

There are no charter schools within the borders of the Parkland School District, though there are several in the Lehigh Valley.

Charter schools are primarily operated with state and local taxpayer money, funneled through the school districts where they are located.

Sniscak was among superintendents from five area counties who in December that condemned the use of public school budgets to fund charter schools. The superintendents also criticized charter schools for not being subject to the same government oversight and mandates as public schools.

Babs Cooper February 29, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Thank you school board for seeing the true colors of this scheme, god bless
Frediano February 29, 2012 at 03:07 PM
There are other Waldorf Schools in PA...and they are all private schools. I never understood why anyone would think that Parkland or any School District taxpayers should pick up the tab for a local private Waldorf School. If private is appropriate for those other Waldorf Schools in PA, then private is appropriate for a local Waldorf School in Parkland. I also don't know what these folks are smoking; do they have any clue as to how stressed the current budget already is? And they think there is room in the budget to fund this crunchy b.s.? If folks want to send their kids to an alternative private school where they can spend their days breathing through the soles of their feet, thinking globally, and acting locally, etc., then pony up the private dough just like every other disconnected child of mommy and daddy's money.
Sam February 29, 2012 at 06:15 PM
wait til the parkland school district has to supply transportation for the students at this elitist private school. Bad enough they shuttle students to central catholic for the students whose parents think that the parkland education system is scum yet they want to live in the district.
truth seeker February 29, 2012 at 09:59 PM
How could they even dream this would be approved? They probably believe the state will overturn the rejection like they did up in Pocono Mt. Special thanks to Tom Corbett and the state GOP party: http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-pa-pocono-mountain-charter-school-20120222,0,2147246.story
careless fills March 01, 2012 at 01:57 AM
The cost of a charter school is only about 80% of a conventional public school. A child's public school gets to keep about 20% of the per capita money to cover their stranded costs. For a growing school district like PSD, this is a great deal, since no one needs to be laid off as there are plenty of students coming in to take the place of those who leave. Likewise, the charter relieves the pressure to build new classrooms and hiring new staff.

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