EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 30, 2012

Some highlights of the Lawrence schools improvement plan

LAWRENCE - Here's some of the highlights of a plan state education leaders announced today to reverse the trend of chronic under performance by Lawrence public schools.

A requirement that starting in the 2103-2014 school year, all Lawrence public schools will be required to have a minimum of 1,330 school hours, adding 160 hours to the school year.

Private education firms with proven track records of running successful charter schools in Boston, Chelsea and Lawrence will be brought in to take over management of Lawrence's worst schools, provide tutoring in two of the city's high schools and run a new alternative high school targeting dropouts.

Unlocking Potential will be brought in to provide managerial oversight at the Leonard Middle School, and the operators of Lawrence Community Day Charter School will take over the Arlington Elementary School starting with kindergarten and first grade the first year and expanding to all grades the year after.

MATCH Charter School in Boston will bring its successful tutoring programs to two high schools in the city, and Phoenix Academy, which operates in Chelsea now, will start a new alternative high school targeting dropouts.

Many of the changes will require a renegotiation of contracts for teachers in the district to accommodate for longer hours and duties.

Funding for all the new initiatives will come from the school department budget.

The introduction of the charter school management to the district will also require a reshuffling of staff. Six principals have already been informed they won't be returning in the fall, a number of teachers will not be invited back.