What is a Charter School? 2 new charter schools open in Iowa
Two new public charter schools are set to open this fall after the Iowa school board gave conditional approval Thursday.
The state is to sign contracts for the Hamburg Community School District, a 133-student district near the Nebraska and Missouri borders, and Jordahl Academy, a private online school, within the next 30 days.
Charters are created under the state’s recently expanded Charter Schools Act. The law was part of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ extensive education program in the 2021 legislative session. The two groups were the only candidates. The short application period was blamed for the lack of applicants. Charter school supporters say they expect to see more organizations apply next year now that the process has been set.
For subscribers:Kim Reynolds wanted more charter schools in Iowa. But only two groups have applied to open them.
Choice Charter expects 300 students from across the state to enroll in the first year, and about 30 students have expressed interest in the Hamburg program.
“We commend the governor for stepping into this charter school arena,” Hamburg Superintendent Mike Wells said.
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are free public schools that operate outside of the traditional school district system.
Because charters receive public funds, schools are required to meet many of the same accountability standards as public schools, such as standardized tests required by the federal government. Unlike district-run schools, charters have their own board of trustees and can ask to waive certain state requirements if they feel it can improve student learning.
Continued:According to the State Board of Education’s schedule, new charter schools could arrive in Iowa as early as August 2022
This is the case of the Hamburg charter. The state board approved the district’s request to waive fine arts, foreign language, and physical education requirements.
Students will still have the option of taking these courses, Wells said.
Prior to Thursday, the only charter schools in Iowa were Storm Lake and Maynard High Schools.
Hamburg aims to restore the grammar school
Thursday marked the third time the Hamburg school district has appeared before the board of education to seek reinstatement of its high school, Wells said.
The district has been without a high school since approximately 2015, when Nishnabotna Junior-Senior High School in Farragut closed. The facility was closed due to financial problems in both districts.
The idea presented Thursday is similar to the plan district officials presented to the state the last time it was asked to restore the high school, Wells said.
Hamburg Charter School aims for its students to earn a diploma and certificate or associate degree. During the summer, students in the upper classes will have the opportunity to do paid internships.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity. It provides vocational and technical training for kids and it’s such a much needed thing in our workforce,” Wells said after the meeting. “And especially (in) southwestern Iowa where there’s a ton of poverty.”
Related:Iowa is about to open more charter schools. Here’s what it means for families
Choice Charter to provide student mentorship program
Choice Charter will target high school dropouts who want to earn a high school diploma. The online school will initially be open to juniors and seniors. It will also take older students up to 21 years old. The purpose of overtime is to serve students in grades ninth through twelfth.
Since the charter is online, students from anywhere in the state can apply.
Online charter schools have faced a host of problems over the years, including low graduation rates and student achievement.
In the 2016-17 school year, “three-quarters of students enrolled in virtual charters attend high school where less than half graduated within four years,” a 2019 analysis of federal data by Education showed. Week.
Related:Iowa just released grades for all of its public schools. Find your school’s rating here.
Choice Charter will offer a mentorship program to help students succeed, said Cynthia Knight, chief executive of Jordahl Academy. Mentors are local and meet with students several times a week to work on goal setting.
“We put in the mentor that other online schools don’t have… We put that support in there because we know these kids need extra support and they need someone to their sides,” Knight said.
Samantha Hernandez is in charge of education for the Registry. Contact her at (515) 851-0982 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @svhernandez or Facebook at facebook.com/svhernandezreporter.