Selected readings on US charter schools
The staff of First Place is making preparations in a hurry, despite legal battles that continue over the constitutionality of using public funding for charter schools.
Daniel Seydel, the board president, said the team is hard at work and very optimistic.
The school serves “a vulnerable population, one that has been exposed to trauma through economic circumstances, social circumstances; and what our niche really is, is being able to provide holistic, wrap-around services to the family,” Seydel said.
By closing the private school and opening as a public charter, First Place will be able to serve close to 100 students, instead of the current 40. Their building has a capacity for many more.
Once they become a charter school, state and federal dollars will make up about one-third of their budget. The rest of the funding comes from individual and corporate donations, and grants.
First Place raises about $1 to $2 million a year, from donors like Bank of America, Boeing, Nordstrom and The Gates Foundation.
The school provides meals, transportation regardless of where a student moves, one-on-one mentoring for each student, and resources to help stabilize families in need.
“If one of our families moves from one end of the town to the other, they don’t have to change schools,” said Sheri Day, the executive director.
Day said that their students tend to come in with behavioral problems, but because there are only about 14 students to every teacher, the children can become proficient at grade level within a year.
About three-quarters of their fourth and fifth grade students read at grade level, which is the same or better than many comparable public schools.
Day said that she was a skeptic of charter schools once. But she came to First Place and changed her mind.
“If we could serve two, or three, or four times as many kids, nothing else matters,” she said.
Source: Kiro TV – by Natasha Chen