New Charter School Prospects Spike Payson District Interest

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Applications to start $14 million worth of new charter schools statewide could be released in the next two months, and Payson schools are interested, Superintendent Casey O’Brien said Thursday.

Few details have emerged, but O’Brien said the applications must demonstrate how the school would increase student achievement.

District officials have been considering moving the Payson Center for Success to the old main offices, which recently moved to the rock building near Julia Randall Elementary.

PCS is a charter school, an alternative for students unable to succeed in traditional high schools. O’Brien said the district’s proven success at charters, combined with the available facility, could make Payson an attractive candidate for funding.

Other types of charter schools include programs focused on music or fine arts. “It’s a niche that appeals to certain parents,” O’Brien said. The schools are public- and taxpayer-supported, but enjoy greater autonomy to tailor specific programs than traditional schools.

The Obama Administration has said it wants to increase the number of charter schools as part of its overall education reform measures.

Arizona is one of five states set to receive $82 million to start new charter schools. The Arizona Republic reported the state will receive $54 million over 5 years to open as many as 92 new campuses, especially middle and high schools with advanced placement programs and those that will boost achievement among minority and low-income students.

“My feeling is charter schools are great, but they need to be regulated,” O’Brien said, adding that “there have been real disasters in Arizona.”

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