Daily News

PVCICS Seeks Reconsideration of Enrollment-expansion Request

HADLEY — The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (PVCICS) is asking the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to reconsider Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s decision to deny the expansion of its authorized enrollment to 968 students.

“Currently we are serving 430 students in grades K through 11, and we will be expanding into the 12th grade next year,” said PVCICS Executive Director Richard Alcorn. “We need authorization now to provide planning time to find and develop a facility suitable for a robust and economically sustainable high-school experience for our students.”

PVCICS is offering all its students the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in 11th and 12th grades. PVCICS wants to build a high school similar in scale to other academically and economically successful Eastern Mass. IB charter high schools with a variety of course offerings and extracurricular options.

Opened in 2007, PVCICS is the state’s first and only Chinese-language-immersion public charter school. It serves a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse student body. Nationally, language immersion programs are gaining in popularity and demonstrating educational success.

Alcorn recently testified before the state Joint Committee on Education telling lawmakers that Massachusetts — and the New England region — are behind the national curve in adopting language-immersion programs. “State law should reflect the fact there is no single school model that is the best for all students, and it should support innovation and choice with a variety of quality alternatives.”

Alcorn submitted specific requests for changes to the charter-school law to Senate President Stanley Rosenberg for consideration by the Senate charter school working group, including authorizing charter schools to create special-education and two-way language-immersion schools. He also plans to reach out to Gov. Charlie Baker to solicit support.

Last fall, PVCICS was named the top-performing high school among public schools by the Boston Business Journal. In December, the school received the 2015 Confucius Classrooms of the Year Award, which is presented to 10 schools across the world for excellence in teaching and learning, curriculum, cultural richness, community engagement, and extracurricular activities. Only three schools in the U.S. received the award.