New charter opens in Austin

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Another school has opened in Austin.

Moving Everest Charter School, 416 N. Laramie Ave., in a partnership with By the Hand Club For Kids, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 20 to welcome the inaugural class of 90 kindergartners and 90 1st graders.

The partnership with By the Hand offers students an after-school program right across the street at 415 N. Laramie Ave.  Activities at the center include tutoring, social activities and spiritual guidance.

U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Chicago) said the new $12 million facilities were “inspirational” and the children enrolled there would benefit greatly from the use of modern technology in the classroom. (Eventually, the school will serve students K-8th levels.

Moving Everest and By the Hand “creates hope in the hearts and minds of the community as a whole,” Davis said.

Also offering praise for the school’s amenities was Ald. Emma Mitts (37), who said she was amazed by how children of such a young age are being exposed to computers and technology in the classrooms.

“This is modern times, and (the students are) starting out just right,” Mitts said.

It was the promise of better technology and more challenging opportunities for students that made Austin resident Michelle James choose Moving Everest for her 5-year-old son Syre.

“I’m just looking forward to (Syre) being challenged,” James said. “I really wanted a school that I could work hand in hand with to keep him challenged and not just keep him at a level that they think he should be at.”

But not everyone is excited to see another charter school open in a neighborhood that saw four elementary schools closed in 2013 when Chicago Public Schools shut down 50 schools across the city.

In a Sun-Times article last month, community activist Dwayne Truss questioned the recruitment tactics used by Moving Everest to attract students from outside of Austin to the school.

“The question is, are neighborhood schools going to start doing this also?” Truss said.  “Trying to entice parents, would they recruit kids in Lincoln Park like that with trinkets? Backpacks?”

Mitts — whose ward also saw the opening of the David Speer Academy, another charter school at 5321 W. Grand Ave. — defended the move to add another charter school in the ward, saying it allowed for more choices for parents.

“It’s better to have a choice than to have no choice,” Mitts said.

Congressman Davis said he’s “an absolute proponent” of alternative public schools like charter schools, adding that as long as everyone gets an opportunity “at a top-flight education, then I’m OK.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the concept of public education with some hybrids and some other approaches, but we must put appropriate funding into it to make it work,” Davis said.

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