Survey supports Crane charter school
Results from a recent survey showed that the Yuma community mostly favored opening a K-12 public charter school in the Crane Elementary School District, according to a presentation to the governing board Tuesday.
Board members first heard about the possible Gowan Achievement Project (GAP) charter school at a board meeting in May, when they approved a request by Superintendent Cindy Didway to survey the community about the idea.
For the past six years, Jon Jessen, founder and chairman of the board of directors for the Gowan Company, has been a partner with the school district to develop the Gowan Achievement Program for students who meet and exceed the standards. In looking for a way to expand the existing GAP program, opening a charter school was proposed, with the Gowan Company as a partner.
Of the 553 survey responses, 31 were from the business community, 61 from community members, 241 from Crane staff members, 64 from Crane parents, 51 from Crane GAP parents and 105 from Crane students.
Participant were asked a series of five to six questions, depending on which category they were in.
In response to “Yuma has difficulty in attracting industry and professionals to Yuma because there is a perception that Yuma lacks quality education,” 86.2 percent agreed from the business community, 70.7 percent from the general community, 66.7 percent of Crane parents and Crane GAP parents, 65.2 percent of Crane staff members and 46.8 percent of the Crane students.
“We hear this statement from the business community all the time, so we wondered if other people believed that also ... You can see most of the people agree,” said Didway.
In response to “The business community would view the math/science focused charter school as an attractive option for parents within the community,” 96.6 percent agreed from the business community, 81 percent from the general community, 93.8 percent of Crane staff and 84.8 percent of students.
The statement, “The existence of a math/science focused charter school would help to attract industry and professionals to the Yuma area,” yielded agreement from 86.2 percent of the business community and from 70.7 percent of the general community.
In response to “I would support the Crane District establishing a K-12 math/science focused charter school,” 93.1 percent of business people agreed, 77.6 percent of the general public, 86.8 percent of the Crane staff, 77.4 percent of Crane parents, 78 percent of Crane GAP parents and 75 percent of students.
“This is the most important question, that's the one we want to know,” said Didway. “I'm pleased with the results ... In my mind, the most important response there is the Crane staff; my thinking behind that is if you can get your staff behind an idea, you can do just about anything.”
The board was not asked to take any action on the results but will be asked to pursue further discussion on the topic at a later meeting.
“We're continuing some study ... but there wasn't any sense in going any further if the community didn't think this was a good idea and I think we now have some sense about how the community feels about it,” said Didway.
The GAP program is currently offered to a limited number of students at Rancho Viejo Elementary School and at Crane and Centennial middle schools. Supporters say the K-12 school would expand opportunities for more children to move at a faster pace in an advanced academic program using extensive technology and labs.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.