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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 unanimously approved the district's own cyber school moments before it reluctantly voted to approve a privately run to move into the district.

The school board fast-tracked its decision to create an online school,the , 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."

Marcy Schoolcraft February 10, 2012 at 11:53 AM
My daughter attended LVPA for art and ended up getting a college scholarship as do 90% of the kids! Great teachers and a great school.Thomas Lubben set up LVPA and I'm sure the middle school will be just as amazing.This is wonderful news for any parent who has a child who is gifted in the arts.
Salisbury Resident February 10, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I will always fully support the charter school movement. In fact, I am quite surprised at those on the board who voted against this movement. Both have lost my vote for on their upcoming elections to another term. I know they read this, as many in the community do. The benefit of the charter school movement - like it or not, they have forced the local districts to bet back to business, and to start thinking about alternatives. Finally, those in education are working as their positions dictate they should be.
EastSalisParent February 10, 2012 at 06:15 PM
First, I thought the school board was concerned with the education of our children. Second, It is the parents right and responsibility to provide for their education on all levels. Third, if the quality and specialties were at Salisbury the students would not be seeking alternatives, i.e. private, parochial, and charter schools, both cyber and brick & mortar. School Board, maybe the problem is not external, but internal. Someone once said something about a splinter in somebody else's eye, and the log in your own eye.
Mik June 21, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Very disappointed with these comments. 1 The purpose of school is academics. If your child is gifted in the arts, then buy lessons. Don't ask the taxpayer to do it for you. 2 We have fine schools & exceptional teachers. We are not a community in need of schools. I am a proponent, but only when the public system is failing. 3 Scholarships come in HS, not in Middle. 4 Article states as of Feb, 280 students applied & only one is from the Township. Of course that # has increased, but the majority are from outside areas. Please explain to me why Salisbury residents must give up a 1/2 million dollars this year alone to this school, & why our administrators need to give up their time to oversee it? 5 It's actually comforting to know we have board members willing to vote against it based on principle. For your comment, these two gentlemen WILL get my vote just to counteract your childish remark. 6 The comment where "I thought...concerned with the education of...". Well, no $%&#. Math, Science, English, History. Mix in a little humanity skills and you got yourself an education. But no, now, the 1500 or so children of Salisbury lose funds from THEIR education fund. 7 ...parent's responsibility - ok, let's go with it. Do you realize how many ticked off parents their would be if they all knew how much money has to be thrown away? TWO-THIRDS of this year's tax increase! Enough to storm down a brick building! Quality & specialties... Perhaps U need to read the literature & talk to staff.
ruben reyes February 04, 2014 at 11:55 AM
Warning: Before you bring your children to Arts Academy Charter School at 1610 Emmaus Ave think twice as a matter of fact 3 or 4 times . It all started last year when my 11 year old daughter first had dreams of attending this school for Dance and Vocal classes.... We were told that our daughter had to audition and then we would be notified if she was accepted. It was a long summer and my daughter had wrote down on the dry erase board that she prays and hopes she is accepted. When the letter came and was given to her the look on her face was priceless when she found out she was accepted. My daughter is very quiet and easy to get along with. After being accepted my daughter was very nervous and anxious at the same time to start the new school. For the first few weeks she would come home and cry and locked herself in her room and that she doesn't want to be there and she wanted to be in the school with all of her friends from Mosser Elementary where she attended the previous 2 years . Me and my wife who works for Allentown School District was kind of forcing her to stay in the school because of the future she would have and little did we know the real reason she wanted to leave was because she was being bullied. I went up to the school with my wife and spoke with the principal Jan Labellarte who was not helpful at all and assumed it was just kids not getting along and stated there will be a meeting with the parents of both children. Ms Jan labellarte also stated that the issue will be taken care of. Later on that day my daughter was receiving text messages from the bully stating she was going to get beat up for saying what happened. We again went up to the school and spoke to the superintendent who was aware that the principal did nothing to resolve the issue and was a little upset that he knew nothing of the situation and when we stated we would take out daughter out of the school for safety reasons he immediately said yes that's that's the right idea which as a superintendent William Fitzpatrick of the school. I believe the issue should be look into instead of having a child give up her dreams because of bullying. The following day my daughter who is in the 6th grade receives messages from an 8th grader that she does not know also threatening her I have taken my daughter out of the school and will be doing whatever necessary to keep her safe and in a school that she will feel safe in. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS SCHOOL AND ITS ON GOING ISSUES.

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