Charter School Efforts Plow Forward

Rural Education Matters (REM) held a work session at the St. Helen Civic Association on January 14th. In attendance were Ralph Cunningham, CEO of Midwest Management Group, Milo Tilton, School Leader of American International Academy, Jon Coggins, Dr. Lorilyn Coggins, Special Project Administrator American Charter Education Services Inc., Elizabeth Thompson Director of Human Resources for Midwest Management Group, Dave Patterson, Chief Administer of Woodward Academy, Scott Marshall, of REM, Gary Gillings of Literacy Consulting Services, Deonna Montei of Literacy Consulting Services, Brent Hammer a former school leader at Concord Academy in Gaylord, Jennifer Jarosz of REM, John Brownfield of REM, Tony and Lois Hoffman, REM supporters, Marge Williams, REM supporter, Nancy Fultz, REM supporter, Dave Fultz, potential Charlton Heston Academy board member, Richard Wood of REM, Pete Reili Richfield Township Trustee, Judie Scroggin, Richfield Township Treasurer, Joe Roush of REM, and Arnie Sutphin, REM supporter.
The meeting lasted over 4 hours and included discussion on many elements of the process to open the doors to the Charlton Heston Academy.
New curriculum ideas were presented including the option to create a virtual high school and ways to work with Kirtland Community College with a dual enrollment program.
The discussion led into insight regarding the passage of Senate Bill 618 which lifted the cap on charter schools and how this new legislation affects the authorizers. Multiple members of the meeting had information regarding the universities that intended to award charters this year. It was decided that REM would submit applications to LSSU and Ferris State as early as the first week of February. Mark Eitrem, former consultant to REM and current Supervisor for the Public School Academies Unit for the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has agreed to assist the group with their future applications and consultant needs on a volunteer basis.
Jennifer Jarosz explained that REM‘s development team has joined forces with leaders in the charter school industry as well as leaders in business and education. The group is currently putting together an actual board to serve as the trustees for the Charlton Heston Academy. The potential candidates currently consist of a bank director and business owner, a retired police officer and township supervisor, and an educational expert possessing a masters degree in education. “Our efforts are sincere and we have a great support system in place with our team members”, stated Jarosz. The group hopes to obtain a charter authorization in the next couple of months in order to secure additional grant money that would be made available to the school. Measures have been put in place to secure facilities for the school which puts the organization in a comfortable position should a charter be awarded. “We have a plan and a back-up plan” concluded Jarosz. The group hopes to open the doors of the Charlton Heston Academy in the fall of 2012.

Reprinted with permission of The FISH Newspaper February 2012 issue