Tag Archives: Charter School

School Board Approves Charter Application

The Vernonia School Board met in a special meeting on April 21 and voted unanimously to approve and sponsor a Charter School application to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

The Charter application was prepared by a steering committee made up of school staff, parents, school board members, school district partners and other interested citizens.

The charter application  includes the entire Vernonia K-12 campus but leaves the Mist School separate from the charter and will require the creation of a separate School Board.

The District now has sixty days to submit the application and complete all paperwork with the ODE to become a Charter School in time for the start of the 2015-16 school year.

 

School Board to Make Charter School Decision

The Vernonia School Board will meet in a special meeting on April 21 at 6:30 PM to decide whether to sponsor a Charter School and submit an application to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

The Vernonia School District formed a Steering Committee earlier this spring made up of citizens, school staff, School Board members and parents to discuss the possibility of submitting an application to the state to become a Charter School.  The Steering Committee held discussions, decided to move forward, and prepared the formal application which was reviewed by a School Board Subcommittee for completeness.  Following two public hearings, the full School Board is currently evaluating the application on its merits and will make a final decision about submitting it to the State at the special meeting on April 21.

The proposed application would leave the Mist School separate from the charter.  The charter  would encompass the entire K-12  Vernonia School.  The new Charter School would require the formation of a separate Board of Directors and require independent accounting processes.

Vernonia District Superintendent Aaron Miller elaborated on the Charter School application process during a recent conversation.  Miller said the Steering Committee included several community partners and was what he deemed “a representative group” that included “a wide range of people from the community.”

According to Miller the Steering Committee identified several advantages to becoming a Charter School.  Miller said one advantage was the ability to expand the Natural Resources curriculum that the District has already made a priority as well as expanding programs like engineering, math and art.  “We feel like we’ve done a good job but the Charter School option comes with some extra funding that would provide resources and supplies we need to keep moving them forward and also provide professional development for teachers to implement new and innovative programs,” said Miller. Read More

Charter School Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charter school and what purpose would it serve?

In Oregon, a charter school is a comprehensive public school that operates semi-autonomously under a contract (charter) with a sponsoring district.  According to the Oregon legislature, the purpose of charter schools is to take responsible risks to create new, innovative, more flexible ways of educating all children within the public school system.

The purpose for Vernonia’s charter school proposal is to continue development and implementation of our current innovative K-12 programs, to obtain input from the parents and the community on the innovative school programming they would like to see implemented, to obtain funding to develop and implement those programs (supplies, materials, staff planning time), and to obtain funding to impact the long term financial stability of the Vernonia School District.

What are the teacher licensing requirements in a charter school?

Per the federal No Child Left Behind act, 100% of teachers in core academic areas must be “highly qualified” at the time of hire, and a minimum of 50% of the FTE of the charter teachers and staff must be licensed by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices commission.

What are the benefits? Why is Vernonia considering moving to a charter school model?

Vernonia is considering exploring the benefits and challenges of pursuing a charter model as a school-of-choice for students and families. Potential benefits of the charter model include:

• Greater room to innovate and grow our K-12 Science/Technology/Engineering/Art/Math (STEAM)-based curriculum

• Increased ability to collaborate with local business and industry partners

• Better preparation for students to forge careers or paths to colleg.

• More staffing flexibility to better capitalize on local expertise

Another important consideration is an Oregon statute that presently enables public schools converting to a charter system to access state funding at close to twice the per-student standard public school level. This one-time funding would be used to implement the innovative programs of a charter agreement, and can also be applied to significantly reduce the District’s capital debt with no additional tax burden to residents. Current calculations estimate this extra charter funding at approximately $5.3 Million.

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VSD to Explore Charter School Application

Vernonia School District Superintendent Aaron Miller has announced the District will explore a proposal to consider making an application to become a charter school.

“We are considering moving forward with applying for charter school status for a significant portion of the students in our district,” said Miller.

Miller and the School Board discussed the opportunity at a board workshop on January 29, 2015.  The Board unanimously gave Miller the green light to move forward and begin studying the possibility of having a portion of the school district create a charter proposal.

“There are a lot of things to consider through the application process and what it means as far as the programs and curriculum we provide for our students,”  said Miller, “but there some very real resource opportunities and benefits  to us becoming a charter school.”

Miller says a steering committee made up of teachers, classified staff, district administration, parents and other community members will be formed immediately to begin considering a charter school option.

“If we do choose this option we want to make sure we have a product that is going to work for everybody—students first, but the teachers, parents and community as well,” says Miller.

According to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) a charter school in Oregon is a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members as a semi-autonomous school of choice within a school district. It is given the authority to operate under a contract or “charter” between the members of the charter school community and the local board of education (sponsor). Under Oregon law, a charter school is a separate legal entity operating under a binding agreement with a sponsor.  A public charter school is subject to certain laws pertaining to school district public schools, is released from others, and must operate consistent with the charter agreement. Read More