Expansion of Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School rejected

HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley was not yet an expansion Monday, during a meeting of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Amherst Public Schools Superintendent Michael Morris explained that the Hadley charter school was asking to double their size to 900 students, but the majority on the board found too many problems.

First, there are currently 109 students on their wait list, but 113 spots can be filled until they would reach their cap. Second, he said that expansion would hurt the Amherst school district. If two students left from Pelham, for instance, it would cost the district about $44,000 per year. That means that a Pelham teacher would have to be let go, which is impossible, because there is only one teacher per grade.

“They don’t have another teacher to cut. They have one teacher per grade level, a principal, a nurse, and staff who can fill certain positions that are required, and special-ed staff. That is all they have,” Morris said.

The board rejected the proposal by a vote of 7-2. The Amherst district currently pays more than $2 million for 126 students to attend.

During Monday’s meeting, new regional charter schools were approved in Plymouth, Sturbridge, and Westfield.