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Opinions are split at forum on planned charter school in WVa

October 23, 2020 GMT

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Opinions were split during a public forum on a proposal to open a charter school in West Virginia next fall.

About 100 people attended the forum Thursday at University High School in Monongalia County as the local board of education considers whether to approve the charter school, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

John Treu, a West Virginia University assistant professor and chairman of the board of West Virginia Academy, the proposed new school, said the school is planned for the “greater Morgantown area,” but may draw students from neighboring communities.

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The school says it’s providing bus transportation, which the state charter school law doesn’t require. It plans to start with grades K-8 but expand up to 12th grade by its fifth year, according to its application. The maximum number of students would be 1,420.

Several opponents at the forum pointed out funds for the school would come from public schools.

“You say you value public schools,” speaker Audra Slocum said. “But you are here, by design, to extract money from them.”

Treu didn’t deny the claim but said, “A charter would be less disruptive to the existing public schools just because we have an existing population that’s large enough.”

Many asked why Treu is trying to open a charter school in Monongalia County, where the public school system already scores among the highest statewide on standardized tests. But Treu said existing high performance doesn’t prevent improvement.