New charter school waiting on final approval from state

A public hearing on Oct. 12 will give residents a chance to discuss a proposed new charter school in Dover.

The school, formerly known as Mapleton Charter School, was originally scheduled to open in the developing Town of Whitehall, but changed its plans due to slow progress at the New Castle County development, according to the Delaware Board of Education.

The proposed site of the school is a vacant building off Route 13 in Cheswold, near Crossroads Christian Church.

The project was set to cost an estimated $9 million had it been built in Whitehall.

While the school’s board of directors is still discussing costs of the new school, chairman Craig Schroeder says they expect significant cost savings by moving into the vacant property. He confirmed the decision to move was mostly an issue of timing.

“This town of Whitehall is going to be great someday, but it’s really still in the planning stages,” he said.

The school, which Schroeder says is slated to open in September 2016, would offer an “expeditionary learning,” an alternative style of education which Schroeder characterized as a more “hands-on, interactive” style.

“We’re not trying to replace anybody,” Schroeder said. “We’re trying to come up with a different approach.”

During the Sept. 17 Delaware State Board of Education meeting the charter school submitted a required modification application.

It requires the applicant to demonstrate the need for a school in the area, what impact it will have on the surrounding community and other school districts, and the financial impact of the move on the school itself.

The three main changes the school highlighted in the application include moving from New Castle into Kent County, a name change to Discover Charter School, and a downgrade in the school’s student capacity.

In the application, the new school says it aims to “expand the offering of choice in the region, giving parents another quality school option.”

“The implementation of a national renowned school model in the Dover area should positively impact the educational achievement rates in the community,” it added.

The proposed school will hold a maximum 450 students in grades K-5, compared to the 600 students it would have held in Whitehall.

If the plan is successful, it would be the third charter school to open in Capital School District. The others are the Academy of Dover and the Campus Community School.

Alison May, spokesperson for the Department of Education, said the charter school’s application is being reviewed by the State Board of Education.

“The applications are considered by the Charter School Accountability Committee, which after a review process that includes multiple meetings, reports and public hearings, makes a recommendation to the Secretary,” she said.

The Oct. 5 hearing is one such meeting. From there, final approval rests on agreement by both the Secretary and State Board of Education.

They will make the final decision on Dec. 17.

IF YOU GO

What: Public Hearing for new charter school

When: Monday, Oct. 12 5 p.m.

Where: Townsend Building 401 Federal Street, cabinet room