Salisbury Fights New Charter School With Own Cyber School
By a vote of 5-2, the Salisbury Township School Board reluctantly approved the Arts Academy Charter School for middle school students, but launches district's own cyber school to stem the loss of students to cyber and other charter schools.
The Salisbury Township School Board unanimously approved the district's own cyber school moments before it reluctantly voted to approve a privately run Arts Academy Charter School to move into the district.
The school board fast-tracked its decision to create an online school,the Virtual Academy of Salisbury Township, or VAST, with the Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit last month in an effort to try to win back students and the nearly half-million dollars in tuition it loses to cyber and other charter schools. Salisbury's cyber school would begin at the start of the district's 2012 school year in August.
The Arts Academy Charter School for grades 5 to 8 plans to open in September in the former KidsPeace building at 1610 E. Emmaus Ave., according to its founder Thomas Lubben. He said more than 280 students have already applied to the school, although only one is from Salisbury.
Although the board approved the Arts Academy Charter School by a vote of 5-2, each member expressed disapproval of charter schools in principle, but said they were legally obligated to consent or the district could face costly litigation. Prior to voting against the charter school, President Russell Giordano, who has served on the board for 13 years, read a statement that outlined his opposition to the Arts Academy, citing its high cost to the district, narrow curriculum, admission requirements and the district's oversight obligation.
Samuel DeFrank also voted against the charter school. Vice President Tom Mantz, Mary Ziegler, Frank Frankenfield, John Moyer and George Gatanis voted for it. Jane Fischer and Brian Bobeck were absent.
Like many on the board, Mantz said he agreed with Giordano, but the state "put roadblocks in our way...The deck is stacked against us if we vote against this thing. It will tie up our administrators, it will cost us money. It will eventually become a decision against us anyway."
Frankenfield said although he does not agree with charter schools, he took some comfort that the charter "offers us control overseeing it. That's going to be important."
Gatanis said he would have to vote for the charter school because opposing it "would be an effort in futility and end up in appeal."