Great Oaks Brings New High-Quality Public School Option to one of Connecticut's Lowest-Performing Districts

Posted by on 03 / 12 / 2014 0 Reactions

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2014
Contact: Bob Bellafiore,

Great Oaks Brings New High-Quality Public School Option

to one of Connecticut’s Lowest-Performing Districts

Public Hearing Scheduled for Proposed Bridgeport Charter School
Hartford, CT – Tonight, the Connecticut State Department of Education will hold a local hearing on the proposal for the Great Oaks Bridgeport charter school – an innovative program that focuses on English Language Learners. The well-regarded program has a strong track record in New York City and Newark and now looks to help Bridgeport children as well.

Run by the Great Oaks Foundation, the proposed public charter school will focus on enrolling children whose first language is not English, and serve grades 6-12, starting with 100 students in grade 6.

Great Oaks Bridgeport would be another public school option in a city where one out of two lower-grade students and two out of three upper-grade students perform below grade level, and one out of three students does not finish high school in four years.

Parent demand for public charter schools remains sky high in Bridgeport, with more than 1,100 names of Bridgeport children on charter school waiting lists in the city. Despite this overwhelming demand, the Bridgeport Board of Education on Monday passed a resolution urging that these options be closed off – in essence forcing Bridgeport children to attend city schools against their parents’ will.

Northeast Charter Schools Network Connecticut State Director Jeremiah Grace said the following about the proposal:

“We applaud the Great Oaks Bridgeport proposal. In a district where over a third of the schools serve English language learner populations ranging from 15 to 38 percent, their focus on ELL students is invaluable.  With schools already open in two states, the Great Oaks Foundation has shown dedication to establishing great public school options, and a potential game-changing school like Great Oaks is what families in Bridgeport need and want. 

“The saddest chapter in this story is that Bridgeport’s board wants to take away the right of parents to choose schools for their children. These are not wealthy families who can afford private school or move. These are families that board members say they’re fighting for. If that’s the case, then why are they slamming the schoolhouse door in their faces?”

Great Oaks Foundation Vice President Christina Grant said:

“If you listen to Bridgeport mothers and fathers, you can hear their deep desire for good public school options for their children.  We can provide that. We have worked for over a year with members of the community to create a program that will give families in Bridgeport the high quality school they want. Our program has an extended school day, rigorous classroom instruction and several hours of tutoring every day – all of which will prepare students for college and success beyond the classroom.”

Facts about Connecticut charter schools: 
  • Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that admit students via a blind lottery. They accept all students regardless of their academic ability.
  • They are managed by non-profits and subject to government oversight. Charter schools must perform to stay open.
  • State charter schools do not take funding away from the local school district in any way, shape or form. When a student attends a state charter school, the local school district actually keeps the state funding for that student, and the charter receives a separate grant from the state. C.G.S.A. § 10-66ee.
  • Districts are eligible for reimbursement from the state for transportation and special education services provided to charter school students.

About the Northeast Charter Schools Network

The Northeast Charter Schools Network is a regional advocacy organization for the more than 200 charter schools in New York and Connecticut. Its mission is to support and expand high-quality charter schools in the region so that all students can receive a great public education.

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