[Baltimore Sun] Baltimore County school board approves new charter school that plans to teach in English, Chinese and French

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The Baltimore County Board of Education unanimously approved a new public charter school Tuesday night.

The Bilingual Global Citizens Public Charter School has a green light to open in the eastern part of the county in the fall of 2025 with a curriculum that would teach in English, French and Chinese.

Casey Kirk, the district’s charter school supervisor, and Melissa DiDonato, its chief academic officer, presented a recommendation to the board March 19 to approve the school, which would be the county’s only language immersion school. The school plans to open with kindergarten through third grade students before adding classes through eighth grade.

However, the school has not yet secured a facility, and faces challenges hiring and retaining a bilingual teaching staff.

“It is important that the organization if approved has a robust plan for recruiting teachers,” DiDonato said at the March 19 meeting. “While the budget described in the proposal is realistic, the fact that their building is yet to be secured does provide a financial risk.”

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Kirk said districts can’t deny proposals for charter schools based on a facility. The district’s lone charter school, Watershed Public Charter School in Milford Mill, occupies a former Catholic school. DiDonato said charter schools can turn to grants or private funding for facilities.

“Based on charter school regulation, we’re not allowed to deny a charter school just because they don’t have a building in place,” Kirk said.

The district now enters contract negotiations with the school and can insert deadlines to find a facility, Kirk said.

Also Tuesday, the board voted 8-2 to deny an application for Puzzle Pieces Learning Academy Public Charter School, with Maggie Domanowski and Tiffany Frempong in the minority.

The proposed school in the western region of the county pitched a commitment to providing an inclusive and empowering environment for all students, including those with special education needs, before receiving a recommendation for disapproval from Kirk and DiDonato at the March 19 meeting. The school had also not yet secured a facility.

“The review team noted a continued lack of detail related to the implementation of what the applicant mentions as a robust learning plan,” DiDonato said.

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