School board OKs deal to start charter school.
NORTH BEND - The North Bend School Board unanimously approved a compromise agreement Monday that opens the way for a new elementary charter school to open next fall.
The Lighthouse School will hold meetings for parents interested in sending their children to the charter school, which will operate in some North Bay Elementary School classrooms left vacant by recent dips in enrollment.
The charter school will accept students for kindergarten through third grade, with plans to add a grade each year, said Alane Jennings, the charter school director. The curriculum will emphasize foreign language instruction, music and the arts, while also providing a traditional academic instruction conforming to state requirements.
After the board rejected supporters' original charter proposal last May, the Lighthouse group appealed to the state Board of Education. The compromise agreement was reached after six months of mediation.
The charter group originally requested 95 percent of the $5,400 the state gives the district for each enrolled student.
Under the new agreement, the charter school will receive 61 percent of the state school support money, as well as free use of North Bay's facilities, nursing and library services and district bus lines.
Charter school students will also participate in the district's hot lunch program.
The group originally had proposed renting the vacant Sunny Hill School.
"There are many, many benefits to us in this deal," said North Bend Superintendent Jim Howard after Monday's approval.
The Lighthouse School will bring in at least $255,000 in federal funding for charter schools, which will be used to train charter staff as well as district teachers, Howard said. Staffers laid off from North Bend due to budget cuts will have first shot at Lighthouse jobs.
The charter school is expected to attract students who are now home-schooled or attend private school, as well as students from outside the district, which means additional revenue for the North Bend district.
The agreement is good for three years, unless state and local revenue drops significantly - which is highly unlikely, Howard said. In that case, the district can terminate the charter school.