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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Charter school process to begin in Nashua

NASHUA – The Board of Education will be asked this week to approve the mission for a district-sponsored charter school, as well as the appointment of a working group that will spend the next year drafting the charter.

Earlier this summer, Superintendent Mark Conrad told the board he intended to propose the creation of a charter school that would be sponsored by the Nashua School District.

The mission statement going before the board at a meeting Monday night states the school would “serve as a laboratory for creative learning environments for teaching and learning which will over time be replicated to other learning environments for the benefit of all Nashua students.”

Among the school’s guiding principles would be that “student learning shall be highly personalized and engaging” and would “foster innovative environments for student and staff learning without the constraints of traditional models of education.”

The school would have to operate within existing or reduced resources, with a cost per pupil equal to or less than that of the entire district and a diverse enrollment similar to other city schools.

“We’re not seeking approval for the charter school,” Conrad said last week. “We just want to begin the process of creating the charter.”

Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Nashua High School North. The earliest the school would open would be the 2013-14 school year.

The proposed working group that would develop the charter includes teaching and administrative representation from the elementary, middle and high schools, as well as two parents, a Nashua Teachers Union representative, two higher education representative and someone from the business field.

Once developed, the charter would have to be approved by the Nashua Board of Education, as well as the state Board of Education. If the district were to open a charter school, it would be eligible for up to $500,000 from an $11.6 million federal grant New Hampshire received to help pay for starting new charter schools.

While most charter schools are started by independent groups, state education officials have been urging large school districts such as Nashua to sponsor one.

Because it would be sponsored by the district, students in the city would be given priority.

One of the other guiding principles included in the school’s mission statement would be for technology to be integrated into the development of curriculum, as well as instructional and administrative management processes.

Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or