Delayed Again: School Board Nixes Charter School Until 2015
By Donnelly Clare
The Stevens Point School District Monday night voted to delay a planned charter school at Jackson Elementary until 2015.
By a 7-2 vote the Board agreed instead to repay a portion of the funds used to plan the charter school. The state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) had given the district $225k to make plans for the project- based charter school, which the Board agreed to start paying back in order to make room for additional grant opportunities which will be used to complete the charter school plans.
Ben Franklin Junior High School Principal Connie Negaard said that grant application will be presented to the School Board in March. Negaard has been one of the many area teachers, UWSP staff members and business owners planning the charter program- something she believes would help bring homeschooled students back into a public school classroom.
The Board has by and large agreed on the concept of the Jackson Middle School for Expeditionary Learning, which would be geared towards junior high students otherwise not challenged in traditional classrooms. But Board Members are split over the costs surrounding the school- which comes to nearly $1 million a year- and question whether it’s sustainable.
“We have cut and limited programs in an interest to balance our budget with direct, negative impacts on our students- all while approving major projects including the Life Skills Center, Plover-Whiting sprinkler system and electrical energy updates,” said Board Member Lisa Totten. “So I ask- if we had no money for the programs we had to cut, how do we have funds available for these major projects?”
Totten also said the district had other priorities to focus on besides a charter school program, including upgrades for building security throughout the district.
The charter school has come before the Board on several occasions since first being presented last year, and has been delayed a number of times because Board Members said they didn’t have enough information on funding for the school. The plan came before the Board previously on February 3 but voted twice before agreeing to postpone the presentation due to the late hour and expected length of the presentation.
The charter school will come before the Board again in March.