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Decision postponed on peace academy.

Byline: SUSAN PALMER The Register-Guard

Citing "tremendous uncertainties" over funding, Eugene School Board members on Wednesday said they want to wait until after two upcoming elections before deciding whether to grant a charter to the Eugene Children's Peace Academy.

Because of state spending reductions, the district has already cut $5 million from its budget this fiscal year.

A November city levy would bring $31.5 million to Eugene and Bethel schools over the next four years, and a temporary income tax increase on a special January ballot would keep Eugene schools from having to cut another $3 million from this year's budget.

Without that money, board members said, they'll be looking at still more cuts that could include shortening the school year.

Under state law, a charter school receives 80 percent of the state's per-pupil allocation for elementary and middle school students and 95 percent for high school students, with sponsoring districts keeping the rest.

The law also requires school boards to make a decision within 30 days of receiving a charter school application, and the Eugene board had planned to vote on the Peace Academy's bid at its Oct. 23 meeting.

But Assistant Superintendent Jim Slemp reminded members they could ask state schools Superintendent Stan Bunn for a waiver, allowing them to postpone their decision. The board voted unanimously to take the issue up again on March 12.

"The waiver is not a vote against the Eugene Peace Academy and what they want to do," board member Chris Pryor said.

Wendy Stgar, a Peace Academy founder, said the school's organizers would also send a letter to Bunn, asking him to deny the waiver.

"The Peace Academy is not going away," she said. "This school would enhance the district and has the potential to bring more people and more money to this district."

Stgar told board members she's received overwhelming interest in the school, with 6,000 hits at the proposed school's Web site and letters from families across the country interested in moving to the area so their children can attend.

But Eugene Education Association President Paul Duchin, who also attended Wednesday's meeting, said the teachers' union does not support the new charter school, saying studies have never demonstrated any benefit to students.

"It creates another school that will not have all teachers properly certified," Duchin said.

By law, only half the teachers in a charter school must be state-certified.

Academy backers hope to open the school in the fall of 2003 for kindergarten through eighth-grade students. The school would emphasize living in harmony with global and local communities and the natural world.
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Title Annotation:Schools
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 10, 2002
Words:434
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