This dual-language charter school relocated to Christiana. Next step, add more students.

Exterior of the new La Antonio Alonso Location in Christiana.
Exterior of the new La Antonio Alonso Location in Christiana.

The dual-language Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School is set for expansion after moving to Christiana, its third location since the school was created.

Academia Antonia Alonso was founded in 2014 to serve bilingual, bi-literate and multicultural children.

The school originally was located in the Community Education Building in Wilmington but moved to Barley Mill Plaza in Greenville in 2016 to have access to more space. The school rented space from Odyssey Charter School, but its five-year lease expired in June 2021 with no long-term option for expansion.

La Academia applied for modifications in December 2021, claiming to the Delaware Department of Education that the school had "long outgrown" its former facility.

"For the past few years, Art, Music and STEM have been 'on a cart,'" the school wrote in its site application. "Space allocated for a Library/Media Room has continued to be compressed, limiting students' access to important resources."

The new location is at the site of a former Comcast call center at 300 N. Wakefield Drive off of Old Baltimore Pike. The 115,000-square-foot building has been vacant since at least August 2019 when Capano Management acquired the property. The school has a 15-year lease.

The $10 million renovation project was completed in nine months, allowing the school to pick up the school year in the new location.

La Academia plans to expand its student base, which currently teaches around 600 students in grades K-5, to around 900 students by the 2024 school year going up to grade 8.

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The application also noted that the relocation into Christina School District is more convenient for existing students and for the school's expansion plans.

A closer look

More than half of the school's students speak English as a secondary language and come from low-income households. Around 73% of the student population is Hispanic.

The 2021 school academic performance results for the school:

  • 13.25% of students at AAACS met the proficiency standards in English language arts.

  • 4.11% met the proficiency standards in mathematics.

  • 83% and 84% of students showed growth in English language arts and mathematics, respectively.

The school's application for modifications links the student body's higher prevalence of poverty to the lower overall academic testing scores.

The big picture

Delaware has 23 public charter schools, most of them in New Castle County.

The Delaware Department of Education created charter schools to:

  • Encourage the use of different and innovative or proven school environments and teaching and learning methods.

  • Provide parents and students with improved measures of school performance and greater opportunities in choosing public schools.

  • To provide for a well-educated community.

Most of the schools, 21, were authorized by the state. Others are authorized by school districts.

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In March 2022, a House bill proposed a moratorium on any expansions or modifications to New Castle County's dense charter school landscape, which currently serves over 13,000 students across 16 different schools.

Spearheaded by Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, a Newark Democrat, the bill proposed no changes in charter schools in New Castle County until Jan. 1, 2024, and set up an advisory group to help better integrate charter schools into the public school system.

The bill made it out of committee but never made it to the floor for a vote.

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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: La Academia Antonio Alonso charter school relocates to Christiana