MIDDLETOWN — The state Department of Education has asked the state Board of Education to delay a vote on the approval of a proposed charter school in Middletown until April to allow residents more time to share their views on the idea with the board.
Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc, which operates three other charter schools in Waterbury, Harlem and the Bronx, filed an application for a charter school in Middletown in December. The charter’s board includes Middletown Board of Education member DeLita Rose-Daniels, Bishop Dr. W. Vance Cotten Sr. of Shiloh Baptist Church and president of the Middletown NAACP Anita Ford Saunders.
A memorandum from the Department of Education noted that the proposed charter school had gained “a substantial amount of interest, far more than is typical,” which was apparent at a public hearing earlier this month. Over 400 people packed the gym at Vinal Technical School, many out-of-town students from the three other Capital Prep Schools.
The Department of Education also noted that only 48 of the 83 people who signed up to speak at the public hearing were able to comment during the two-hour time limit, and that the Department of Education continues to receive written comments about the charter school proposal, which the department hasn’t finished reviewing.
The vast majority of the 48 people who commented at the meeting were in support of the charter school, although some attendees told CT Examiner that they felt not enough residents of Middletown were able to have their voices heard.
The department has also received letters of support for the school from State Sen. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, NAACP State Conference President Scot Esdaile, and Adjunct Professor Leslie Saunders, Central Connecticut State University.
Robert Kosienski, president of the Meriden Board of Education, wrote in opposition to the charter school, arguing that the state should invest in local public schools rather than charters and that magnet schools and technical schools already existed for students that wanted an option outside the traditional public schools.
“The last thing urban districts need right now is another school to enroll more students from their community-based secondary schools,” wrote Kosienski.
Dr. Alberto Vazquez-Matos, superintendent of Middletown Public Schools, said he supported school choice but echoed points made by Kosienski, saying that students already had a number of schools they could choose from.
“I urge you to carefully evaluate the implications of establishing a Capital Preparatory in Middletown and the impact it will have on the educational infrastructure of our district,” wrote Vazquez-Matos in a letter to the state Board of Education.
The proposed charter school, if approved, is planned to open for grades 6 to 12 in fall 2024 and then expand over time into the elementary school level, eventually reaching a total enrollment of 1,150 students. The school’s curriculum would offer a special focus on social justice.
In evaluating Capital Preparatory’s application, the Department of Education gave the proposed charter 38.12 out of 57 total points, a scale that takes into account issues including curriculum, school governance, demographics and admissions policy, the financial and building plan.
The Board of Education will vote on Wednesday, March 1 on the recommendation.