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Charter schools’ expansion approved

Recorder file/Peter MacDonald
Four Rivers Charter School has earned its third renewal from the state, as well as approval to expand the number students it can enroll.

Recorder file/Peter MacDonald Four Rivers Charter School has earned its third renewal from the state, as well as approval to expand the number students it can enroll.

GREENFIELD — Four Rivers Charter School, a 10-year-old secondary school that serves seventh-graders through seniors, has been renewed by the state for another five years and allowed to expand slightly, from 212 students to 220.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education also voted Tuesday to allow expansion of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley to grades 9-12 and to increase enrollment from 300 to 584 overall.

“We work hard at Four Rivers to create a learning environment that really works for a wide range of students,” said Four Rivers Principal Peter Garbus. “We feel affirmed that the state sees evidence that we are achieving that.”

Charters are always granted or renewed in five-year terms. Four Rivers was granted a five-year charter in 2003 and renewed for five years in 2008.

Garbus said that the proposed expansion (from 212 to 220 seats) will actually reflect the school’s true enrollment. When the school expanded by 20 seats during its last charter renewal, the state allowed the school to continue to accept 36 students each year, even if the total number went slightly over the 212 cap, he said.

The new cap of 220 students will allow for 36 students in each of the six grades, plus four “super seniors” who need additional time to finish graduation requirements, said Garbus. As many as 80 students apply for 36 available seventh-grade spots each year, he said.

Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion teaches about 40 students from Franklin County, and currently offers classes from kindergarten through ninth grade.

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