Parents want quality charter school to replace Meyers Elementary | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Parents want quality charter school to replace Meyers Elementary

William Ferchland

A tight timeline faces a group interested in forming a charter school at Meyers Elementary next year but important work has already been done.

More than 120 signatures have been gathered from interested parents, a rough charter written and a phone line established for the cause.

Two parents, Carry Loomis and Pam Singer, are meeting tomorrow with state education officials who specialize in charter schools.

The most difficult part, finding a location, is no problem since Meyers Elementary is shutting down due to budget cuts in Lake Tahoe Unified School District. Loomis said some teachers who were laid off by the district stated they would work at the on-site charter school.

“We want this to be a strong educational school with small classes,” Loomis said.

There are hurdles. A charter must be presented to and approved by the district’s board of education before May 21. If the deadline is not met, state funding for the school won’t be available, which will likely push the opening date to the 2005-06 school year, Loomis said.

A principal needs to be found and an interim governing board, which will act as the school board, should be established soon. Singer said she would sit on the board to keep class sizes small for her son.

“He is in a class of 34 kids at Meyers and it’s not working,” Singer said.

“It’s huge,” Garrett Singer said of his fourth-grade class.

Declining enrollment and a state fiscal crisis have choked the school district, causing teacher layoffs, fee increases, program cuts and two elementary schools to close.

Doug Forte, a LTUSD school board member and a former principal of Meyers, said he would be willing to support a charter school if “they had their ducks in a row.”

A lack of student diversity and poor educational programs are the usual downsides of charter schools, Forte said.

“They’re going to be hard-pressed to produce a program that is comparable to ours,” he said.

While teacher pay will be less, Loomis and others are working on a benefit package. Both Loomis and Singer want the school to run like a business, with the principal as the chief executive officer.

“Times are changing and I think we need to change with the times,” Loomis said.

Those interested in the school can call (530) 573-1415.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.


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