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December 14, 2002

Eight charter high schools OK'd to open in 2003, 2004

From: Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN - 14 Dec 2002

Associated Press

State education officials have approved eight new charter high schools, including one for Hmong students and one aimed at keeping young people out of gangs.

Four of them plan to open next year in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

The schools scheduled to open next year in Minneapolis are the Hmong Academy and the Minnesota Internship Center. In St. Paul they are the Minnesota North Star Academy, which will focus on deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and the General John Vessey Jr. Leadership Academy, which calls itself the state's only public military school.

Schools also have been approved in Grand Marais and Bemidji.

Two other schools hope to open in St. Paul in fall 2004: Great River High School, which will provide a Montessori program, and the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a school touted by Mayor Randy Kelly and sponsored by the Ordway Center for the Perstolforming Arts.

Charter schools are independent public schools that are free of many of the regulations that govern local school districts. More than 13,000 Minnesota students attend 78 schools, most of which offer programs for younger students.

Charter schools at the high school level are becoming more popular with students who attended charter schools in their primary years, and with parents concerned over low graduation rates in Minneapolis and St. Paul, said Jessie Montano, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Children, Families and Learning.

Bill Snyder, a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy working on the Vessey Leadership Academy, said his school would meet a demand for military-style education from families that might not be able to afford private-school tuition. He expects to enroll about 100 students.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota North Star Academy offers a new choice for families of older deaf children. Most deaf students now attend a state-run school in Faribault or attend their local high school with the help of an adult interpreter.

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