Charter school says it’s bracing for 30% rise in enrollment
A surge in enrollment has Community Charter School of Cambridge searching for extra classroom space. Faculty and staff at the tuition-free college prep school say it is a good problem to have.
“We will be creative about classroom space,” said Paula Evans, the school’s head. “I’m confident we will figure it out before students arrive for their first day of school on Sept. 1.”
More than 350 students have registered for the Kendall Square school this fall, which had 270 last year, said Justin T. Martin, the school’s chief communications officer and, until summer, public information and communications officer for Cambridge’s public schools. Additional faculty have been hired for the public charter school’s coming year, including a full-time art teacher, and an Advanced Placement calculus course has been added to help meet demand.
That 30 percent growth outpaces what’s facing the Cambridge public school district, which saw 187 students added to the last fiscal year’s 5,950 students, or a 3 percent surge, and expects a 2 percent rate of growth in every fiscal year through 2015 except for 2014, when a 2 percent decrease is predicted.
In testimony to the School Committee throughout the year, parents said they moved to Cambridge to take advantage of its public schools; the charter school’s surge can be traced to a similar set of factors, including what officials called strong middle school program, high test scores, college placement and the number of alumni succeeding at the college level.
“I think that this last factor is most significant,” Evans said. “We are building a track record now. We’re entering our sixth year. We have graduated two senior classes, and our graduates aren’t just getting in to college, they are staying there and succeeding.” The school teaches kids in seventh through 12th grade.
Students apply to the school from throughout the commonwealth and are admitted by blind lottery. Cambridge residents have priority, but there are also students from surrounding communities, including Somerville, Arlington, Boston, Brighton, Brookline and Newton. Students from as far away as Belmont, Milton and Waltham are enrolled.
Recent graduates have earned admission to Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Dartmouth, Johnson & Wales, Providence College, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Cornell, Holy Cross, Swarthmore, Temple, Wheaton and many other notable institutions, Martin said. (The public high school, Cambridge Rindge & Latin, has a similarly high graduation rate — averaged out by the district to about 92 percent of students heading off to two- or four-year institutions, with a large number attending top schools. This year, 16 graduates were admitted to Harvard.)
For information about Community Charter School of Cambridge, call (617) 354-0047 or go to ccscambridge.org.
This post includes significant amounts of information from a press release.