Charter school unanimously denied |

Charter school unanimously denied

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Douglas County School District Board of Trustees moved to deny Sierra Tahoe Academy’s attempt to be the only charter school in the county next school year.

Supporters of the charter school packed the plastic seats at Kingsbury Middle School for yesterday’s decision. The vote was 6-0 to strike down the current application, with member George Echan abstaining because of a conflict of interest.

“My recommendation is at this time we cannot grant a full charter to Sierra Tahoe Academy,” said Roy Casey, assistant superintendent.

“They were asked to meet the five conditions and they hadn’t done so,” said board member Keith Roman.

“In particular I was concerned with the financial part and I am concerned that most charter schools fail because of financial reasons.”

The five conditions included indemnification, budget, curriculum, facility and assessment.

Board members listened to Rick Kester, director of business services for the district, who said the expenditures and revenue for the charter school didn’t balance and wasn’t presented on mandated state forms.

“In general, it clearly is a budget that is not properly constructed under Nevada code,” Kester said.

Charlie Lincoln, who is under contract to operate the charter school, tried several times to find a suitable and inspected facility before submitting the formal application on June 3.

According to state law, the application for approval must contain a lease and inspection form.

Lincoln said there was an agreement to lease an old and vacated 8,000-square-foot creamery complex along Highway 395. The agreement came after the application was submitted.

“(The facility) has been our biggest problem from Day 1,” Lincoln admitted.

Douglas County District Court Judge Michael Gibbons, a Sierra Tahoe Academy board member, said children who find public school socially difficult, are academically gifted or have special needs would benefit from the school.

Lincoln and others still have time before an August meeting to rectify concerns about the application. Board members said they are not against a charter school.

“They will have to be really ready, but there is time,” said board member Connie Wennhold. “But we shouldn’t have to be rushed on a decision of this magnitude.”

In other actions, the board unanimously approved a revision to the Suspension and Expulsion Policy. A clause was added pertaining to a failure of a student to report a harmful incident threatening others. It was instigated when a student had information of a school fire cause and didn’t say anything.

The student with information was disciplined and the parent felt the rule was not explained clearly, said Roy Casey, superintendent for the district.

“Now it is spelled out,” he said.

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