Lehigh Valley

Easton's Strong Foundations charter school rejected again

District says charter's curriculum doesn't meet 'Common Core' standards.

EASTON, Pa. - For the second time in four months, the Easton Area School Board has said no to the idea of a charter school opening within the school district.

The board voted in late March to reject an application by Strong Foundations, a public, not-for-profit charter school that wanted to set up shop in the former St. Joseph Catholic School on Easton's South Side.

After that rejection, Strong Foundations revised its application, and returned Tuesday night to the school board, only to be rejected again.

The board based its 7-2 vote on the advise of its solicitor, who ruled the application didn't meet the district's Common Core standards.

The decision was a setback for dozens of district parents who say the school would provide an alternative to Easton Area curriculum, and give students from poorer families a second chance.

"There's a whole bunch of kids who are being left behind," said charter school supporter Mick Davis. "Strong Foundations is about starting them early, and giving them a good foundation. If you don't get them at the bottom, by the time you get to 10th, 11th grade, you're going to be left behind."

The school's representatives say Strong Foundations offers students as young as kindergarteners a chance to take STEM -- a curriculum based around science, technology, English and math -- courses, as well as PLTW (Project Lead the Way) classes.

The school district currently only offers PLTW at the high school level.

Opponents of the charter school said that rather than setting up a separate school, the district should work on improving its curriculum.

Others said Easton simply can't afford to open a charter school.

Marissa McFadden, of the EASD Community Coalition, compared the district to a family living paycheck to paycheck.

"I feel like we're standing here trying to dodge a cannonball," she said.

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