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Charter school board presents case

Charter schools work because they aren’t over-regulated or generally bogged down by bureaucracy.
They’re effective because of academic innovations and choices, which account for every student and every learning style.
And a charter school in Monongalia County could make a county already known for exemplary education even more.
John Treu and the board of directors of West Virginia Academy Ltd. made the above points, and more, in a socially distanced forum Thursday evening in the University High School auditorium.
By state statute, the above board was required to participate in a public hearing for its school. 

They’ll do the same in Preston County, since families in neighboring Bruceton Mills are also open to enrollment.
Both districts have to approve the 371-word application, according to that statute.

Mon Schools, meanwhile, will give its final word no later than Nov. 30, after allowing West Virginia Academy Ltd. to address any deemed deficiencies in its application during the review.
Their proposed charter would be the first school of its kind both in Mon and the Mountain State.
It would feature a reaching, tuition-free curriculum, its backers and organizers said, including specialized classes and ample time for students to explore their own creativity.
And the academy, said Treu, who serves as its president and board chairman, just might make a better grade than Mon’s school district.
Treu, is also a professor and assistant department chair of accounting in the Chambers College of Business and Economics at WVU.
The telling numbers for him, he said earlier, come in test scores — even in Mon, which fares better than the state’s 54 other public districts.
Consistent underperforming of Mon’s schools in reading and math proficiencies, in fact, were part of the motivation to  launch the academy, the professor has said.
“Good charters outperform standard public schools,” he told the audience.
That includes charters in Washington, D.C., many of which are thriving, and in rural Tidioute, Pa., near the New York state border — in a region that could be a demographic cousin to West Virginia.

After his opening remarks, the moderated forum was given over the audience members, both for and against.

Many of the speakers who took the podium were proponents of Mon County Schools.

“You’re adding nothing new,” one woman said.

“What you’re proposing is already being done,” another man added.

One speaker touted the modern facilities of UHS, while another mentioned the 31 Advanced Placement classes offered at cross-town Morgantown High.

There were those at the microphone who spoke of national accolades garnered by county students and academic programs.

Others, though, weren’t so bullish.

“Where would this country be if we hadn’t tried something different?” one audience member ventured.

“I think you have a well-thought plan that brings out the best in our students.”

Mon County, another speaker said, could be even more of a model for the state with the addition of the charter academy.

Emphasis on “state,” she said, referring to West Virginia’s often lower-quadrant showings in national rankings for public education quality.

“I don’t know how anyone can look at the state and say 49th is good enough,” she said. “We can do the same thing over and over again — and expect different results.”

Prior to the forum, a group gathered outside to protest charter schools.