Crane to hold public meeting about proposed charter school
The charter school planning committee will be recommending that the Crane Elementary School District board move forward with their plans for a district sponsored charter school at an upcoming meeting.
At a work session on Tuesday, Nov. 27, the committee will make an informal presentation to the governing board regarding their ideas thus far on the proposed charter school. Immediately following the work session, the board will open up the floor for public comment during a special meeting.
The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at Pueblo Elementary School, 2803 W. 20th Street.
Crane superintendent Bob Klee commented that the curriculum for the school, projected to open for enrollment in August 2013, would have a foundation on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) principles.
The charter school committee, made up of district staff and various members of the community, recommended that the charter school be placed at H.L. Suverkrup Elementary School, 1590 S. Ave. C, as it is currently the school in the district with the most extra space.
“Right now, Suverkrup is actually designed to hold 700 students and right now we have 450 students on that campus,” said Klee. “The committee has looked at that and that's our most logical campus with space available for this. Our first choice was to try and find a location that's not one of our actual buildings, but it has to be within our school boundaries and we simply were just not able to find any place to do it, so our second choice was to start to look at our different campuses.”
He noted that if the board approved the recommendation to proceed with the school, there would be two schools operating on the same campus under the same calendar year, but with most likely different drop-off and pick-up times. Klee said that they plan to open the school offering first through fourth grade levels with the intention of adding on more grades in the future.
The district sponsored charter school, which the committee has been calling the Crane Math and Science Academy, would be open for enrollment to any student throughout Yuma County.
“There is no selection criteria; it's open enrollment for any student,” he said. “Now depending on how many students show interest, obviously we'll have to have some kind of process for selection because right now the committee is looking at recommending about 210 to 240 students maximum to start off with.”
As far as transportation goes, Klee said right now they are planning to provide transportation within the district boundaries and all students would either have to be dropped off on campus or at a district bus stop.
The intent would be to begin posting job openings in December, hire a director by January and have staff in place no later than the end of February. “That way we can provide them time and opportunities for training and planning to get things up and running,” he said.
At this moment, he commented that they plan to pay the staff at the same salary and benefit plan as current employees in the district. Klee added that they are looking to hire people with a very strong knowledge base and focus on science and mathematics.
He said that the ultimate purpose of having a district sponsored charter school like this is to provide options for parents.
“We're hearing parents out there in the community that want choices and one of the choices parents are asking for is a focus on math and science for those students that really have that inclination,” he explained.
Klee concluded that he wanted to dispel the misconceptions that opening a charter school would increase taxes for residents in Yuma. He said that is simply not the case.
While they are allowed to use district dollars to support the proposed charter school, they don't intend to do that, Klee said. He added that they would actually receive an additional $1,000 from the state per charter school student.
“It will not drain any resources from the district, actually it brings additional resources into the district,” he said.
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.