March 8, 2012

Charter firm (SABIS) moves ahead with school in Lowell, Massachusetts

Charter firm moves ahead with school
Company says it will address concerns later

By Katheleen Conti Globe Staff / March 8, 2012

The company that will manage a recently approved charter school in Lowell will wait until the enrollment process is complete before addressing concerns over projections of high student-teacher ratios for those with special needs and English as a second language, according to a representative.

By a 6-3 vote, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the application for the Lowell Collegiate Charter School, a college preparatory school for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade that will be managed by SABIS Educational Systems, Inc., a private, for-profit company based in Minnesota. Although a location has yet to be determined, the school has proposed to open for the 2013-2014 school year.

SABIS, which already manages charter schools in Springfield and Holyoke, plans to serve an estimated 540 students from kindergarten through fifth grade in its first year, and add a grade level each additional year until it reaches an enrollment of up to 1,200 students through twelfth grade. The company’s school in Springfield is only its second K-12 school in the nation, but SABIS manages schools in 15 countries overall and serves more than 60,000 students, said Jose Afonso, the company’s director of US business development.

After analyzing the school district, Afonso said, SABIS found that there was a demand in Lowell for an alternative to the traditional public school.

“We realized the district wasn’t offering the quality programs that parents want, as evident by testing data,’’ Afonso said. “We thought we could make a difference in the community by keeping families from moving, be a part of the solution to stabilize the community, and give it the competitive edge that it needs.’’  (To read the complete article in the Boston Globe, click here.)