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Charter schools eye expansion

Chinese Immersion, Four Rivers seek state approval  to add students

HADLEY — The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School is one step closer to opening a high school after Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester recommended approval of the school’s application.

The Hadley school, which teaches about 40 students from Franklin County, currently offers classes from kindergarten through ninth grade. The school’s bid to expand its offering up to 12th grade needs approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The commissioner is recommending an expansion of the school’s charter to allow it to educate 584 students, up from the current cap of 300 students, and to add grades 9 through 12. The board will consider the commissioner’s recommendations at a meeting Feb. 25-26.

In February 2012, the state board followed Chester’s recommendation by extending the school’s charter for five years for kindergarten through eighth grade and approved adding ninth grade for one year, to allow eighth-grade students to continue at the school.

Richard Alcorn, executive director of the school, said in a statement that the school is pleased with the commissioner’s recommendation. He said it is important for the school to have a high school so that the current students are not forced to leave when they reach higher grades, and that many parents and guardians of current students are eager for their children to continue at the school.

Four Rivers Charter School

Four Rivers Charter School, a Greenfield secondary school that serves the surrounding communities and the Valley, is also likely to expand. The commissioner recommended increasing the maximum enrollment at the school by eight places to 220 students.

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