Potential future charter school works on policy | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Potential future charter school works on policy

William Ferchland

Only G-rated movies will be shown to students from kindergarten to sixth grade. Playground supervisors will blow a whistle once to have students “freeze” during recess. Students can’t bring personal music players into class.

Those are some policies for Lake Tahoe Community Academy, a proposed charter school for next school year that will be the center of Tuesday’s meeting of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education.

The board will hold the meeting to question those behind the charter movement and hear comments from supporters. The board has until Jan. 12 to approve the charter.

If granted, a wave of grants and hirings for the academy will follow.

If the meeting last month was any indication, when the charter was asked to be reviewed by lead petitioner Pamela Singer, the board room will likely be filled with supporters of the proposed charter school.

A mass showing of support would help proponents of the academy. One factor to approve the charter is whether parents and community members back the proposal.

A look at the charter, and the contract between the district and academy, finds an independent site focused on teaching about 200 students from kindergarten to eighth grade if it opens next fall. The defunct Meyers Elementary School or rooms at Al Tahoe Elementary are targeted as the site.

The academy needs support from the district since it would be located under its umbrella. The district would not benefit financially from the academy’s enrollment. California provides roughly $4,700 to the district for each student that sits in a desk.

A small portion of the academy’s revenue, 3 percent at most if the district offers its facilities, will be paid annually to LTUSD.

To help soften the potential impact of luring students from the district, the academy would provide an estimate of the next school year’s maximum enrollment.

“The academy agrees to use its best efforts to give complete and accurate information regarding enrollment to the (district) on an ongoing basis,” a draft of the agreement stated.

Lorraine Garcy, interim superintendent, said she will meet with department heads in such areas as finance, special education and facilities to discuss the legality of the charter.

In the proposal, the district would supply special education services and perhaps other duties to the academy. In turn, the academy will give an annual performance report to the district.

Each will have financial independence of the other.

The district wouldn’t be “held liable for the academy’s debts or actions,” the charter stated.

In summer 2003, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District revoked the charter for Prosser Creek Charter School mainly due to fiscal mismanagement and a $3.4 million debt.

Board member Madeline Fernald said she embraced the International Baccalaureate curriculum but worried about the absence of bussing for students.

“I definitely need more information,” Fernald said. “I think a charter school is a great idea. It’s something I hope the district can do as well.”

Singer said many grants, including the possibility of transportation, are available for the academy if and when the charter is approved.

“I think the biggest stress right now is waiting,” Singer said.

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

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