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Four Rivers charter renewed for 5 years

GREENFIELD — Four Rivers Charter School, a 10-year-old secondary school that serves seventh-graders through seniors, will be renewed by the state for another five years.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote Tuesday on Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s charter school recommendations — in which he called to renew Four Rivers’ charter and expand the school by eight seats.

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

State spokesman JC Considine said that the Four Rivers’ charter renewal is moving forward and that the Board has not voiced objections to the commissioner’s recommendations. Charters are always granted or renewed in five-year terms, he said. 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.

A state review gave Four Rivers high marks in academics, leadership, school safety, family engagement, facilities and management of its finances.

Still, there is room for improvement as the school moves into its next charter, said Garbus. He’d like to see better middle school MCAS scores, to match the high marks seen at the high school level.

Four Rivers has not been able to meet a goal it set five years ago to have 100 percent of its graduates apply to at least one college.

“With five graduating classes so far, some students each year have chosen to enter the work force or take time off,” said Garbus. “Nonetheless, the school continues to prepare every one of our students to be successful in college if that’s the path they choose.”

Chester’s recommendations include renewing nine existing charters across the state and granting five new ones. Six charter schools will not be renewed.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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