Dorchester Prep Application Rejected by School Board - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dorchester Prep Application Rejected by School Board

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William Akridge, the founder of the Maryland Eastern Shore Charter School Alliance, speaks to the Dorchester County Board of Education on Thursday. (Photo: WBOC) William Akridge, the founder of the Maryland Eastern Shore Charter School Alliance, speaks to the Dorchester County Board of Education on Thursday. (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- In a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the Dorchester County Board of Education on Thursday rejected the application for a new charter school in downtown Cambridge.

The school, which would have been known as Dorchester Prep, was to cater to roughly 50 students in their first year, starting in the fall of 2014, focusing on a STEM program. William Akridge, the founder of the Maryland Eastern Shore Charter School Alliance, said Thursday's outcome was disappointing.

"We feel that there is a need in this community, and we have the ability to meet it.  o in that case, we are planning to appeal to the Maryland State Board of Education, as is the policy and the law in this situation," Akridge said.

Akridge said that the current school system is not serving students in the county well, and that something different, like a charter school, needs to be introduced.

But most everyone who spoke at Thursday's meeting were against the proposal, citing that there was not enough of a need for a whole new school, and that they felt that MESCA did not know how to best serve struggling students. Some went so far as to say the petition used by MESCA was used as a sign-in sheet, not as a true petition. However, Akridge said those claims are untrue, and the petition clearly stated its intent at the top.

Some people WBOC spoke with said the current system does need to be improved, but internally.

"I don't think that the charter school is the true answer to what some of the students may need.  Not all of the students but some of them," said Janelle Buck.

"Now that we've saved $1.5 million, I thought they should look seriously into putting it in early childhood education and universal pre-K," said Kathleen Wise.

That $1.5 million would have been spent on Dorchester Prep over the course of several years, as some of the funding for the school would have been from the district, to the tune of roughly $10,000 per student.  That is in addition to an over $650,000 grant from the federal government, which Akridge says is the largest grant for a charter school issued this year. 

He said he is hopeful and confident about the appeal process. The Board of Education would not comment on the matter due to Akridge's comments to appeal the ruling.

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