EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 6, 2013

Charter school pitched in Andover

Designed for 450 students in grades nine through 12


“I don’t know if it’s ever happened before,” he said.

Birnbach said last night that he listed himself as a School Committee member on the proposal documents because he was required to. He said, however, he is acting as a private citizen in proposing the school.

“My role in leading the team is 100 percent as a private citizen,” he said.

Other School Committee members were surprised by the proposal.

Annie Gilbert said she got back from a two-week vacation over the weekend and found an email from Birnbach announcing his plans.

“I was surprised,” she said. “I look forward to hearing more about the proposal. I didn’t know he was working on it.”

Birnbach said he and the team only just recently decided to locate the school in Andover. While the letter of intent stating the group’s intention to put the school in Andover was sent to the state June 26, the prospectus wasn’t sent in until last week, on July 29.

Gilbert said she also was concerned about the impact the school could have on the district’s budget. She noted that funding for charter schools comes in the form of tuition payments from the sending district. That is, for every Andover student attending the Andover charter school, the state reduces Chapter 70 education aid based on a per-student formula.

“We have to get up to speed on its affect on Andover,” she said.

Birnbach said Andover High School is overcrowded by 250 students and that an addition on the school would cost $14 million to $18 million. A charter school, he said, would take students out of the high school so that the district might not have to build a costly addition.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

J.C. Considine, a spokesman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the Andover proposal would be viewed on its merits along with the others.

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