Seven Generations Charter School
|Seven Generations Charter School|
154 East Minor Street
|School type||Public Charter|
|Founded||initially approved May 11, 2009, charter renewed 2012-2017|
|School board||7 locally selected members|
|Oversight||East Penn School District, Pennsylvania Department of Education|
|School number||(610) 421-8844|
|Administrator||Nick Bellucci, Business Manager|
Sandra Suero, Executive Assistant
|Director||Jen Hersh, EIC Curriculum Director|
|Principal||Paul Hunter, CEO and Principal|
|Age||5 years to 14 years old|
|Number of pupils||351 pupils (2012-13), 314 pupils (2011-12), 180 pupils K-4 (2009-10) |
|• Kindergarten||45 (2012), 44 (2011), 47 (2010)|
|• Grade 1||46 (2012), 47 (2011), 46 (2010)|
|• Grade 2||44 (2012), 45 (2011), 36 (2010)|
|• Grade 3||45 (2012), 45 (2011), 26 (2010)|
|• Grade 4||44 (2012), 46 (2011), 25 (2010)|
|• Grade 5||45 (2012), 44 (2011)|
|• Grade 6||45 (2012), 43 (2011)|
|• Grade 7||37 (2012)|
|Tuition||set by PDE based on student's home district|
|Student waiting list||125 children (2011)|
|Focus||Seven Generations is an environment-focused charter school that provides what it describes as "activities focused on sustainable living, environmental stewardship and respect for our planet and all living things."|
The school was founded in 2009. Seven Generations Charter School is operated under the oversight of a local Board of Trustees, the East Penn School District and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 2013, the enrollment was 351 pupils, with 12% of pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. Additionally, 17.94% of the pupils receive special education services and 3.7% pupils were identified as gifted. Seven Generations Charter School is a federally designated Title I school. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 10% of the school's teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In 2011, the school employed 34 teachers yielding a 9:1 student teacher ratio. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 10% of the school's teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Seven Generations Charter School is one of four public charters schools operating in Lehigh County in 2013. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in 2012, there were 50,605 children in Lehigh County that were enrolled in public charter schools.
Originally, the school provided Kindergarten through fourth grade. By 2013, it has grown to offer kindergarten through eighth grades. The school is housed in a former silk mill originally built in 1892 and is located near residential neighborhoods, a small town business district, several local historical sites, the main headquarters for Rodale Publishing, and an expansive local community green space. In 2010, students from 23 school districts in the Lehigh Valley region attend Seven Generations Charter School.
Seven Generations students participate in the surrounding community activities like parades and special events. Seven Generations Charter School embraces the EIC program requirement that all students improve their local environment through community-based service learning activities. First grade students raised community awareness about how to protect a local pond by petitioning the mayor and council to have signs posted and giving presentations at the local library. Third graders wrote letters to local community leaders to acquire resources to purchase of native plants to replace invasive species on our adjacent riparian zone. The plants were chosen by third and fifth grade students, collaboratively, so that they supported the fifth grades service project of honey bee hives that ensure sources of pollination. In 2012, Seven Generations Charter School received national recognition as an EIC Model School.
In Pennsylvania, charter schools are initially approved and subsequently overseen by the local school board. They make in depth, annual reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In Pennsylvania, charter schools are a public school alternative the local public schools. Students may seek admission to a local charter school. The student's home public school district pays the tuition costs on the student's behalf. Additionally, when the local school district provides transportation to its students it must also provide transportation at no costs to charter school students when the receiving school is within 10 miles of the District's borders. Pennsylvania charter schools have the same academic accountability as traditional public schools and must give the PSSAs to their pupils each year, working to achieve AYP status.
According to Pennsylvania charter school law, if more students apply to attend than there are open slots available, Charter Schools are required to use a random lottery system to select new incoming students. According to the Charter School law, siblings (brothers and sisters), and children of individuals who help establish a charter school, are granted an “admissions preference.” Students residing in the East Penn School District are selected first, according to the number of slots available for local resident students. If there is space available for more students, seats will be declared open for out-of-District students.
The Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit IU21 provides the school with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.
School performance profile
Seven Generations Charter School achieved 77.3 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics, writing and science achievement on the state PSSAs and Keystone Exams. In reading/literature - only 69% were on grade level. The third grade has 87.8% reading on grade level in reading. In mathematics - 65.6% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Biology/science, 88.64% showed on grade level science understanding. In 5th grade writing, 64% of pupils showed on grade level writing skills. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.
Sixth and seventh graders are tested in reading and mathematics beginning in 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999. Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. Students in 3rd grade are tested in reading and mathematics, fourth graders are tested in reading, mathematics and science. Fifth graders take SSAs in reading, mathematics and writing.
6th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 53% (61% below basic). State - 68%
6th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 53% (31% below basic). State - 77% 
5th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 58% on grade level (24% below basic). State - 65% 
- 2011 - 59% (23% below basic). State - 67.3% 
5th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 48% (25% below basic). State - 73%
- 2011 - 53% (21% below basic). State - 74%
- 4th Grade Science
- 2012 - 89%, (4% below basic). State - 82%
- 2011 - 92%, (5% below basic). State - 82.9%
- 2010 - 70%, (7% below basic). State - 81%
In December 2012, the School's administration reported that 20 pupils or 6% of the school's pupils received Special Education services, with none of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010–11 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism. The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).
In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the School engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress . To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the district's Special Education Department. The IDEA 2004 requires each school entity to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, including the student handbook and website regarding the availability of screening and intervention services and how to access them.
In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding. The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district's students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student's needs accrue the same level of costs. Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education. The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students. In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.
Charter schools received an increased tuition payment, from the home school district, for pupils who receive special education services.
Students who live in the local school district's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to a charter school operating in a neighboring school district. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rate for East Penn School District Elementary School students - $8,746.97.
School safety and bullying
The Seven Generation Charter School administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the school in 2012. Additionally, there were no incidents involving local law enforcement and no sexual misconduct with students. Each year the school safety data is reported by the district to the Safe School Center which publishes the reports online.
The Seven Generations Charter School Board of Trustees has provided the district's antibully policy online. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the District must conduct an annual review of that policy with students. The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.
Education standards relating to student safety and anti harassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.
Seven Generations Charter School provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health's extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance. Nurses also monitor each child's weight. A free dental screening is provided at the school.
The school does not participate in the federal School Breakfast or school lunch programs. Children are expected to bring their own lunch to school each day. They do provide a small lunch and snack for children who fail to bring a lunch to school. There is a school wide healthy snack plan which lists for parents appropriate snacks to be provided at school.
Highmark Healthy High 5 grant
In 2011, the Seven Generations Charter School received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. The School received $6,135 which was used to purchase equipment and implement the Weller Health Education Center's programming on nutrition education. Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5-year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.
In addition to tuition payments, Seven Generations Charter School applied for several grants to increase its funding. Both the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Federal government offer several education grants each year. The school administration did not participate in: Science Its Elementary state grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.
Federal stimulus grant
Seven Generations Charter School received an extra $10,582 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding was limited to the 2009–10 and 2010-2011 school years. Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one time expenditures like: acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.
Race to the Top grant
Seven Generations Charter School officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one quarter million dollars, in additional federal funding, to improve student academic achievement. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.
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