Even though the Allentown School District Board of Directors carried a big stick in denying two separate charter school proposals during Thursday night's meeting, they charmed the rejected applicants with enough praise to make them blush.
Directors shot down applicants Executive Education Academy and LVenture by 8-1 and 8-0 votes with Director Charles Thiel dissenting and abstaining, respectively.
The reason identified by board members for the rejections were an absence of a sufficient curriculum, according to the district's solicitor.
In the case of the Executive Education Academy, the school sought to alter the culture, climate and environment of the district's student body, by cultivating business executive leadership skills amongst students and cutting dropout rates.
The school would have opened their doors at 555 Union Blvd. and would have sought to enroll about 525 students in their first year.
LVenture would have led a paradigm shift in education where the focus would have been on a student-directed education where teachers and students would have worked in a more collaborative manner than is traditionally found in education.
The school would have occupied a location at 11th and Hamilton streets had it been approved.
Both schools attracted a bevy of supporters Thursday night, some of whom addressed the board prior to the vote to urge passage.
While both applicants were roundly defeated, many directors verbalized their support for the ideas behind both schools.
The Executive Education Academy concept of building character in the students was especially commended.
"I think there is a lot of good in this proposal, but I base my opinion on what our experts tell us," said Director Scott Armstrong of the EEAC proposal. "I would encourage them to come back with a better application,"
"I would love to support your charter school, your enthusiasm," said Director Joanne Bauer. "...I think the framework is outstanding. Everything as you discussed. But as an academic person I just need to see a more vigorous curriculum. I would encourage you to have your educational people go back and combine that with your other assets."
"I think the concept is excellent," added Director David Zimmerman.
"I would like to acknowledge the community support," said Director Debra Lamb.
"My heart wants to support this school," said Director Ce-Ce Gerlach.
Director Charles Thiel noted that he appreciated the "normative culture from staff to students" embodied in the Executive Education Academy idea.