Reading board denies application for arts charter school

Vote was unanimous

READING, Pa. - In a move many saw coming, the Reading School Board denied the application for Berks Arts Academy Charter Elementary and Middle School during Wednesday evening's regular board meeting.

Following a motion by board member Robin Costenbader-Jacobson, the board unanimously voted for the denial.

The school, proposed by Dr. Thomas Lubben, was targeted for a location at the former Central Catholic High School.

This is the third time a charter school proposed by Lubben has been voted down by the school board.

The board followed that vote with another unanimous "yes" approving the adjudication in support of their denial. The document basically states their formal opinion on the matter and reasoning for the vote. They similarly released an adjudication after the most recent charter denial in 2017.

Other business

A split board, voting 4-4, resulted in a "no" for the approval of first reading revisions to Policy 246, regarding student wellness.

The policy was presented by Assistant Superintendent Chris Celmer and Anne Fisher, the director of student supports and school health.

They discussed a particular passage that centered around the use of food in the classroom as an incentive or reward as well as the guideline that individual classrooms don't hold parties or celebrations unless a part of a larger school-wide celebration.

Board Vice President Eddie Moran expressed concerns with wording, saying he felt it was "taking some of our cultural celebration away," and saw it as, "having some exclusion to culturally diverse activities."

Board members Robin Costenbader-Jacobson and Ann Sheehan both disagreed with Moran, saying they did not interpret the wording that way.

Board members Costenbader-Jacobson, Sheehan, Jean Kelleher and Leo Martinez voted to proceed with the policy as written.

Opposing the policy as written were Moran, Bernardo Carbajal, Brian Buerke and Patricia Wright.

Celmer explained that the policy revisions are stemming from "requirements from federal and state statutes," and that another revision attempt will be brought to the next meeting.

Other topics approved during the meeting related to curriculum, personnel and administration.

Board member Abraham Cepeda was absent from the meeting.

The Reading School Board will meet again on April 18 for a committee of the whole meeting.

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