Data Helps to Determine Location of New Schools

Author: Jake Cowan and Tom Kingsley
Date Posted: August 29, 2011

New charter schools in Baltimore relied heavily on data provided by BNIA to develop their school proposals. A group in the Patterson Park neighborhood asked BNIA in 2003 for help assembling demographic data about the neighborhoods surrounding the park. BNIA provided them with information about the age of children in the neighborhood that was used to estimate the number of children from the neighborhood that would be likely to access a new school. The analysis included data on test scores and enrollment in nearby schools. This was used to estimate the number of children that would potentially switch from existing schools to a new charter school. The number of children in grades 1 through 5 with low test scores were considered likely to switch. These data supported the case that there would be enough children using the school to justify opening it, which ultimately helped the group win approval from the Baltimore school system for their proposal. The Patterson Park group also used BNIA data in a proposal that won them state planning funds. In September 2005, the Patterson Park Public Charter School opened its doors to more than 300 elementary-age students.

In northeast Baltimore, organizers of the City Neighbors Charter School also relied on BNIA data about their neighborhood to win approval for a proposal to establish a new school. City Neighbors Charter School opened its doors in September 2005, with an enrollment of 120 students. Of those students, 45 percent had previously attended private schools or had been home-schooled. “We used the BNIA data to really get a handle on what we had in our neighborhood,” says Bernadette Naquin, director of accountability for City Neighbors Charter School in northeast Baltimore. “We needed good data and BNIA could supply it.”

This story was initially published in Stories: Using Information in Community Building and Local Policy in June 2007.

This story was written by staff at the Urban Institute, drawn from documents and interviews with Peter Armstrong of BNIA and Carol Eshelman of the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance is the Baltimore partner in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a learning network in 30 cities coordinated by the Urban Institute. All partners ensure communities have access to data and the skills to use information to advance equity and well-being across neighborhoods.

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