The board approved the charter school planning grant application after a presentation by Nancy Gagnon and some of the other proposers, although many questions remain to be answered during the planning grant period. The charter school proposal as presented calls for up to 180 seats (3 grades of 2 sections of 30 students each), very preliminary budget numbers were about $950K/year in operating costs. The proposal calls for a school that is an "instrumentality" of the district: although it has a separate governance board it would not be a distinct fiscal entity - this is the way our current charter school (MG21) is operated. The school would use a "project based learning" model and feature an environmental and health sciences curriculum. Ann Schroeder raised concerns that there was not sufficient room n Winnequah for 180 Middle School students.
The next step would be to negotiate and agree to a charter in December of next year. IMHO any agreement would have to be budget neutral - the costs of the charter school should not exceed the differential savings of taking those students out of our existing program - anything more would result in fewer resources for students in our existing programs.
The board also approved open enrollments for next year. Out of a total of 206 applicants we accepted 125 based on available space. This includes 55 4K, 20 Kindergarten students at Winnequah, and 30 high school students.
We also got a look at an updated budget forecast: we are anticipating a $3.1M deficit representing a proposed budget reduction of 5.5% per student. The deficit can be offset by projected savings of $1.1M in WRS and Health insurance payments (the pay cut to teachers), $100K revenue from open enrollment, $850K in Federal Jobs Bill revenue, $245K savings from the Maywood/Winnequah consolidation, $340K from staffing maximization (reducing staff and moving them around to match student needs) and $362K in program and services reductions (more on those next time). This leaves us with a projected negative $88K balance on the year, plus whatever is required for remodeling in Winnequah due to the consolidation.
P.S. The H-I website embeds my cell phone video of the 1812 overture played by the combined 4th-12th grade orchestras at the bottom of the front page: http://www.herald-independent.com/, check it out!