$50,000 for project
The Storm Lake School Board was informed Tuesday that the application to plan for a new public charter school has been approved by the Iowa Department of Education. Clarification will be necessary in several areas, however, to keep the process moving.
The school board must approve the application, with the revisions, no later than March 31 if the school plans to start the charter school this fall.
Laurie Phelan, charter school expert for the Iowa Department of Education, applauded the district in a letter to Supt. Bill Kruse: "It was a pleasure to receive your application. This is a pioneering work in Iowa and we are excited and supportive of your desire to think innovatively about ways to help assure all students can succeed."
Envisioned as a school within a school, the Storm Lake Area Early College High School would offer a five-year educational program in collaboration with Iowa Central Community College. A participating student could graduate with a SLHS diploma - and a college associate of arts degree from ICCC or enough college credits to enter a four-year college as a junior.
With an increasing minority student population in the high school (260 out of 630 students / 41 percent), the plan proposes to close educational achievement gap.
The charter school is being proposed to make high education more accessible, affordable and attractive to students who may not see a college degree in their future due to language and/or economic barriers.
Students eligible are those that attain a score of 40 or above on the ASSET or 65 or above on the COMPASS skills measurements used by ICCC for placement of students in college.
It is anticipated that by the fall of 2005, approximately 40-50 students would qualify to begin the program with approximately 20-25 students per year qualifying and entering the charter program thereafter.
"The ultimate goal is to enrich and enhance learning, accelerate progress, increase productivity, build a better-prepared and more diverse workforce and create a passion for lifelong learning and achievement," Principal Mike Hanna said.
The DE found and praised many strengths in the concept, but asked for more clarification on support that will be given to those students enrolled in the charter school but are not ready for college-level curriculum, protections against screening students out in the admissions process, and so on.
A contractual agreement is in development that could authorize $50,000 for the district to further study and develop the concept.