The Crane School District is embarking on a new approach to learning with the school board's approval last week of a new charter school that will put emphasis on science, technology and mathematics.
The new school, which will be located on the campus of H.L. Suverkrup Elementary, will launch in the fall of 2013. It will initially be limited to 240 students and have first through fourth grades. Eventually, it will include kindergarten through high school students.
Although preference will be given to Crane students, it will also be open to students throughout the community if there are spots available. It will be operated as a state charter school rather than a conventional public school. Charter schools have somewhat different operational rules and receive more state funding.
The new school is an outgrowth of a limited program already under way in the Crane district known as the Gowan Achievement Project (GAP) which was created and funded by the Gowan Company in Yuma. The GAP program put an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies.
A longtime criticism of America's public schools has been that they are failing to keep up with schools in other nations in regard to STEM learning and that would put America at a competitive disadvantage in the future.
Some questions have been raised about the innovative new charter school, but the Crane board strongly supports the concept, as did parents in the district when surveyed about the plan. District officials have promised the new school will not detract from conventional programs in current schools in the district and in fact might improve them as proven concepts are transferred to them from the charter school.
The charter school will provide the needed flexibility to experiment. How successful it will be is yet to be determined, but our schools need to try innovative approaches if they are to improve. Congratulations to the Crane district for leading the way.