Avon Grove School Board receives annual report from the Avon Grove Charter School
● By Steven Hoffman
The Avon Grove School Board's agenda for the Sept. 28 meeting included the annual report by officials from the Avon Grove Charter School.
Kristen Bishop, the head of school of the charter school, and Donna Archer, the chief financial officer, led the presentation. Bishop noted that a written version of the report had been submitted to the Avon Grove School District during the summer.
Bishop explained that the charter school saw an enrollment increase of 55 students—from 1,685 students to 1,740 students—for the current school year. The enrollment in third grade increased enough to add an extra class, Bishop said. Additionally, the freshman class in the upper school this year has 108 students, which is a significant increase over past years.
A total of 244 students were entered into the lottery for a spot in the kindergarten program, and the school has now welcomed 167 kindergarten students, with about half of those students residing in the Avon Grove School District.
Bishop detailed some of the facilities planning work that Avon Grove Charter School officials have undertaken. The charter school last year authorized a $28 million bond issue to refinance its existing debt. The funding will allow for facilities expansions for both the upper school and lower school. A capital campaign was also launched for improvements to the arts wing.
Bishop also highlighted the curriculum initiatives and programs aimed at boosting student achievement. One major initiative has been the effort to get a one-to-one Chromebook-to-student ratio for grades 4 to 12. Bishop said that students have been very excited about utilizing the computers.
The charter school has been looking to add sports at the upper school, and there are now cross country, men's soccer, and women's volleyball teams. They are also looking to add other sports programs based on student interest in the future.
Bishop noted that the 2016-2017 school year was significant for the Avon Grove Charter School because it worked for, and received, its charter renewal. The charter school also successfully completed the process of achieving Middle States Accreditation.
School board vice president Brian Gaerity noted that there are a lot of similarities between the initiatives of the charter school and the Avon Grove School District. The similarities include facilities work to meet students' needs, curriculum initiatives that provide students with the educational opportunities that they need, and significant investments in technology.
Gaerity said that it's a good sign in education when there is general agreement that a school's curriculum needs to be continually modified and updated to make sure that students are receiving the education that they need to succeed.
Bishop agreed with Gaerity, and said that it's a good thing if better school programs are delivered to students as a result of competition among schools.
School board president Bonnie Wolff encouraged residents to continue to sign up for the listening posts that are taking place this fall regarding the Facilities Input Group's recommendation to spend $140 million to build a new middle school and extensively renovate the high school. Residents can sign up for a listening post on the school district's website.
“We want to make sure that everyone who signs up has a spot,” Wolff said. “It's important to us to hear what you have to say.”