Charter Pulse

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ARIZONA: Yuma charter school eyes expansion to Lone Star state

Carpe Diem MeridianYuma-based charter school Carpe Diem is looking to expand to Texas.

Carpe Diem’s charter school application was recently approved to operate a network of charter schools in San Antonio by Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams.

Carpe Diem Schools founder and CEO Rick Ogston said that the plan is to start with one school, which would serve middle and high school students, and then to eventually increase to five campuses in the area.

As long as the Texas Board of Education does not veto the application during its November meeting, Ogston said Carpe Diem is expected to open its first Texas campus in the fall.

In addition to its Yuma campus, Carpe Diem also has a school in Indianapolis, Ind., and in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Carpe Diem Meridian campus in Indianapolis was opened at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and the Carpe Diem Aiken campus in Cincinnati recently opened in September.

“I originally had no intent of replicating Carpe Diem anywhere,” said Ogston. “It was only when others, including state governments, began approaching me that I considered that possibility. Because of their insistence I thought we should give it a try and share our personalized approach to learning with whomever would like to experience it. And so we have.”

Carpe Diem has a blended learning model that uses online instruction as well as group and one-on-one instruction.

“It has been very gratifying to see our Yuma model be replicated in other locations,” he said. “We are proud of our school model but we don’t believe we are the silver bullet to solve all education problems. Our unique model is but one quality option for kids and parents to choose in order to personalize their educational experience.”

In addition to adding Texas campuses, he said that they are working to add more schools in Indiana and Ohio. There are also a few other locations in the works yet to be announced, Ogston said.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, some in Texas are concerned that Carpe Diem’s scores on the Arizona state exams have declined since 2010.

Information from the Arizona Department of Education showed that 89 percent of students passed the math portion of Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards test in 2010 compared to 67 percent in 2013. Also, 96 percent of students passed the reading portion of the AIMS exam in 2010, but that number dropped to 79 percent in 2013.

The school had faced a unique situation he noted.

When its Yuma school leader died suddenly two years ago just before AIMS testing, Ogston said, it had a serious impact on students and staff, as well as on its performance. After being unable to find a qualified leader for the campus, the school continued to have challenges with its performance the following year.

“I’m always asked about the possibility of technology replacing teachers. To that I offer a resounding, ‘No!’ Good teachers and leaders are a vital component of the Carpe Diem model,” Ogston said. “…Technology can’t replace people. Never can and never will. We now have a new school leader and, under his leadership, I fully anticipate our currently good performance to rise.”

He added that most recently, its Indianapolis campus had an “outstanding first year.” Carpe Diem Meridian had 100 percent of its students pass the English 10 and Biology I portion of the Indiana End of Course Assessment. Results and 90 percent of students passed the Algebra I section. On the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus standardized test, students showed an overall pass rate of 87 percent across all content areas.

When asked about funding, Ogston said that all of Carpe Diem’s schools operate on state dollars. He said that while philanthropy is required for start-up funding, private fundraising coalition Choose to Succeed provided $1.5 million in funding to Carpe Diem to build its first Texas campus.

Source: Yuma Sun – by Sarah Womer

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2013 by in Arizona, Charter Schools, Texas and tagged .

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