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11 new charter schools set to open

(Published August 23, 1999)

In addition to the 146 traditional D.C. public schools opening Aug. 30, 11 new public charter schools will open their doors by early September. That will bring to 30 the number of charter schools operating in the District.

Charter schools operate with public funds but have greater flexibility in curriculum, structure and staffing than traditional schools. Charter schools are chartered and monitored by the D.C. Public Charter School Board or the D.C. Board of Education.

Chartered by the D.C. Public Charter School Board:

Edison-Friendship Public Charter Schools will open a middle school Sept. 13 at the Blow-Pierce Campus, 725 19th St. NE, for 800 students in grades 6-8. The school is organized so that teachers stay with the same students for several years. Families of students older than second grade are lent a computer for use at home. Curriculum is college preparatory. Vonelle Middle-ton, who formerly led a new high-tech vocational public high school in St. Louis, will serve as principal. Edison-Friendship currently operates two schools for grades K-5: the Chamberlain campus at 1345 Potomac Ave. SW and the Woodridge campus at 2959 Carleton Ave. NE. Organizers plan to open a high school on the same model in Sept. 2000. The schools were founded by Friendship House, a nonprofit human services provider in the District and The Edison Project, a for-profit education management firm based in New York.

Marriott Hospitality Public Charter High School, founded with corporate support from the Marriott Corp. and other major hotel companies, will open Sept. 7 at 410 Eighth St. NW for 100 students in grades 9 and 10. The school aims to prepare students for careers in the food service, restaurant and hotel industries, including a basic four-year academic program. Flossie Johnson, a former longtime D.C. public school teacher, will serve as principal. She previously led the Health and Human Services Academy, a school-within-a-school at Eastern Senior High School. The school is run by a nonprofit foundation created by the D.C. Hotel Association and the Restaurant Association of Greater Washington.

Robert Louis Johnson Jr. Arts and Technology Aca-demy will open Sept. 8 in Deanwood at the Richardson school building at 53rd and Blaine streets NE for 540 students in grades preK-5. The curriculum emphasizes arts and technology. Students will be grouped by ability, working in small groups or receiving individual attention. Advantage Schools Inc. of Boston will operate and manage the school. Principal Robinette Breedlove of Lanham, Md., has prior experience in starting and running charter schools in urban settings in Pittsburgh and North Carolina. She previously worked for an education management firm. The school was started by parents, teachers and community members from Richardson Elemen-tary School, which was closed three years ago.

Southeast Academy of Scholastic Excellence will open Sept. 7 at 645 Milwaukee Place SE for 700 students in grades preK-6. The curriculum includes academic, vocational and character-building courses. The school is geared toward Southeast Washington students. Elizabeth Smith, formerly a teacher and counselor at M.M. Washington and Spingarn high schools, will serve as executive director. Ronald Hasty, formerly principal at Kelly Miller, Merritt, Carver and Aton elementary schools, will serve as principal. The school will be managed by the Tesseract Group. The Rev. Vincent Palmer, pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church in Southeast, is chairman of the board.

Meridian Public Charter School will open Sept. 7 at 1346 Florida Ave. NE for 100 students in grades preK-3. The school will use a traditional liberal arts curriculum developed by the Calvert School in Baltimore, which includes daily lessons in core knowledge, individual attention and display of student portfolios. Kevin Parson will serve as principal under the oversight of a board of trustees. Parson previously worked as principal at parochial schools in Baltimore. Louis Steadwell, president of the Parent-Teacher Association and a member Local School Restructuring Team at Wilson Senior High School, will serve as chairman of the board.

Chartered by the D.C. Board of Education:

Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts will open Sept. 30 at 1348 Florida Ave. NW with a curriculum that focuses on preparation for skilled careers in construction and the building trades. The school offers a day program for students in grades 11 and 12 and an evening program from 4 to 10 p.m. for young adults, ages 18-21, who want to complete their high school education. Programs for adults moving from welfare to work also will be offered. The school was founded by Edward W. Pinkard, whose uncle was a student of Booker T. Washington, the pioneering black American scientist and inventor. Kenneth Green will be principal of the day school. Sheila Bradshaw will be principal of the evening adult education program.

Hyde Leadership Public Charter School will open Sept. 7 at First and T streets NE in the Langley building for 240 students in grades 7-9. The school features a college preparatory curriculum with emphasis on community service, parent involvement and character education. Private Hyde schools were founded about 30 years ago in Bath, Maine and Woodstock, Conn., by educator Joe Gauld. A third Hyde school, which is public, operates in New Haven, Conn. The D.C. school was founded by the leaders and alumni of those schools. Don MacMillan will serve as principal. He has taught at Hyde schools since 1983, and was associate headmaster for four years at the Maine and Connecticut campuses.

Ideal Academy Public Charter School will open Sept. 9 at 1501 Gallatin St. NW for 120 students in grades preK-6. The curriculum emphasizes math, science, technology and reading through phonics. The school is an outgrowth of the Academy for Ideal Education, a private school in the District. The school was founded by Paulette Bell-Imani. Carrie Johnson will serve as principal.

Kwame Nkrumah Inter-national Public Charter School is scheduled to open Sept. 7 with a conditional charter in the Rabaut building at Second and Peabody streets NW for 300 students in kindergarten through grade 12. However, the Board of Education has advised school leaders not to open until a full, permanent charter has been issued. The school features a multi-cultural college preparatory curriculum with emphasis on world languages, computer technology and science. Student exchange programs with schools in Africa also are planned. The principal has not yet been named. Yosef Ford, a native Ethiopian and U.S. citizen, a former adjunct professor at Howard University, is head of the academic team. The school was founded by the Tradition and Technology Group, a group of international educators.

New Vistas Preparatory Public Charter School will open in the Rebaut building at Second and Peabody streets NW for 150 students in grades 7-12. The program is designed to attract low-achieving students and those at risk of dropping out. School-to-work and internship programs will be offered. The school was founded by Mary Jenkins. She did not return calls for comment.

Roots Public Charter School will open at 15 Kennedy St. NW for 60 students in grades 1-8. The school features an African-centered curriculum with emphasis on character building and social responsibility. The school is an outgrowth of Roots Activity Learning Center, a private elementary school in the District. Founder Bernida Thompson will be principal.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denomintator