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State gives go-ahead to three new charter schools

The State Board of Education voted unanimously this week to approve three new public charter schools that will open next year.

Those schools are Gate City Charter School for the Arts in Nashua, Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth and Founders Academy in Londonderry. A fourth school, Granite State Arts Academy, made a presentation to the board but is not seeking approval until next month’s meeting, said Tom Raffio, chairman of the state board.

“Of the possible charter schools that were out there, these were the ones that were the most robust and well thought-out applications,” Raffio said.

This approval comes nearly a year after the board put a temporary halt on new charter schools because there was no money left in the state budget. In June, the Legislature approved $3.4 million in funding for new charter schools in the two-year budget. The state pays $5,450 per student in adequacy grants to every charter school.

“Our group is very excited to be able to move forward and to work on now opening the school,” said Karin Cevasco, co-chairwoman of Gate City, a K-4 school which will open in fall 2014 and can accept up to 100 students. Before then, the school must file with the secretary of state to become a nonprofit, seat a board of trustees and secure a location. The school will begin accepting applications in January, Cevasco said.

Founders Academy in Londonderry plans to open in January 2014 for sixth- and seventh-graders, Raffio said. It has been approved to take 200 students, but will likely take about 100 for the first year, Raffio said.

Mountain Village in Plymouth will open as a Montessori-style program in September 2014. It can accept up to 56 students in first through third grades, Raffio said.

The fourth school, Granite State Arts Academy, will seek approval at the board’s Aug. 19 meeting. The founders wanted to open the school on the Seacoast, but were urged last month to find a different location because there is already a charter school in that area. The school will now open in Derry, and the organizers need to tidy a few things before seeking final approval, Raffio said.

These schools will join 18 other public charters in the state.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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