, Salem, MA

Local News

April 17, 2014

Charter school embraces new space


“You want them to have the space,” she said.

The new school features exposed ceilings, bright colors and a straightforward style that brings to mind hip hangout destinations farther down Essex Street. LaRusso said it was appropriate that an alternative school look alternative — “We don’t want to look traditional” — and that it stood in stark contrast to the previous space.

“There’s no drab in this school,” she said.

Internet access has also improved since the school moved. Increased bandwidth has allowed teachers to rely on it, which they never could do before.

“You’d load a YouTube video, and 10 minutes later, you’d be like, ‘You know what? I’ll just act it out for you,’” LaRusso said.

The school opened in September 2011. Its charter mandated that it grow by 25 students each year, but the size of the school’s space prohibited it from doing so this year or last. The school still hosts only about 50 students, the number it started with.

Thanks to the new location, the school is expected to begin adding students next school year, and officials anticipate having as many as 80 enrolled by next April.

The school has also saved some space for later expansion when new students start coming in. Among other things, that space could host a science laboratory.

The state’s education commissioner had previously voiced concerns that the school didn’t have an adequate facility.

Salem Community Charter School is funded by the Salem School Department but is managed by its own board of trustees. It’s not to be confused with the Salem Academy Charter School, which serves grades six to 12 at its location near Shetland Park.

Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at

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