Selected readings on US charter schools
The Idaho Public Charter School Commission approved plans from three charter school groups last week that will provide 990 new charter school seats in the next several years. The state’s primary charter school authorizer approved expansion plans for both the North Idaho STEM Academy in Rathdrum and the Sage International School in Idaho. The Commission also approved the Syringa Mountain charter school’s proposed performance certificate expanding its enrollment cap by more than 90 students over its first five years of operation.
“During Thursday’s meeting, the PCSC expressed great enthusiasm for the growth plans of all three schools, whose performance records and community support are exemplary,” said Tamara Baysinger, Director of the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. She added, “It is a pleasure to watch these schools find ways to serve more of Idaho’s families that are seeking high-quality educational opportunities.”
The North Idaho STEM Charter Academy was approved as Idaho’s first K-12 STEM Academy, and the Commission unanimously approved the Academy’s request to expand its K-8 program into high school grades.
“This is something our parents really wanted and have been asking for since we opened first opened in 2012,” said Colleen Thomson, NI STEM’s co-founder and Director of Instruction. The expansion was approved by the Commission because of the school’s academic success, quality governance and administration, strong community support, and its fiscal responsibility. As the state’s first and only K-12 STEM School, STEM Charter Academy is blazing a trail for students and education in Idaho. Scott Thomson, STEM’s other co-founder and Executive Director said, “STEM Charter Academy’s success is not just our curriculum, it is our culture of high academic and behavioral standards for all students. In order to do that, you have to have the right people implementing it, and we’ve got the best!”
The school currently enrolls 312 students, and under its new agreement with the state STEM Charter Academy’s enrollment will grow to 724 students over the next nine years. “This is really making room for the kids in our school to continue with our program through their high school years, and to stay on the advanced track towards college and career readiness,” Thomson shared.
SAGE International School is a high-performing International Baccalaureate charter school located in downtown Boise. The Commission approved the school’s request to expand its enrollment from 712 students to 1,200 student. SAGE has recently been awarded a $350,000 Expansion Grant by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation to grow its K-12 school model. “Our wait list has made it very clear to us that we had to figure out ways to serve more students and families,” said board chair Suzanne Metzgar. She add, “we are excited that the Commission supports our efforts to expand our quality program for more kids.”
Also approved by the Commission was the Syringa Mountain School’s plans to add additional students during its first five years of operation. Syringa Mountain will open in Blaine County in 2014-15 as a K-5 school.
According to the Idaho Department of Education, there are about 11,400 students on waiting lists who would like to attend one of the state’s charter schools. It is encouraging to these families that the Idaho Charter School Commission is working with high performing charter school models to help them expand their capacities to serve more students.
Source: Idaho Charter School Network – by Terry Ryan