Persistence Pays Off as Charter School Moves Forward

Parents line up to fill out pre-registration forms for charter school before egg hunt in St. Helen

     As we reported last week, Rural Education Matters (REM) has been recommended for a charter authorization for the proposed charter public school, Charlton Heston Academy. At the boards regular monthly meeting on April 5th the public was informed that the proposed board members for the academy  are in the process of filling out applications for LSSU and that the expectation is that the academy boards approval and final contracts with LSSU will be completed the first week of July.

The Board informed the public that a formal 30 day contingency offer has been submitted via Coldwell Banker to the Roscommon Area Public School (RAPS) Board for the purchase of the elementary school building located in St. Helen. REM had not heard anything at the time of their meeting but hope that RAPS intends to discuss the offer at the Aril 18 school board meeting. The offer is good until April 19, 2012.

During the meeting several questions were asked by the audience. In response to many of the questions the board informed the audience that charter schools do not charge tuition, charter schools provide the same services for special needs as any other public school, public schools cannot ask for tax levies, and teachers must be state certified. Additionally it was noted that the academy will enroll Kindergarten through 8th grade students. Adding high school and pre-school in coming years is being explored.

Some of the parents at the meeting inquired about registration applications to which they were informed that registrations could not be accepted until the charter contract is finalized. It was also asked if St. Helen kids would receive preference for enrollment. It was explained that board members and staff members are given preference. Besides that the registrations are based on a first come first serve basis. There will be 2 weeks of open enrollment for which dates will be announced later.

In an interview with REM Board President Jennifer Jarosz she stated that the Charlton Heston Academy hopes to form partnerships with organizations such as Kirtland Community College and the Great Start Collaborative. Jarosz mentioned that Thomas Quinn, president of Kirtland, had attended a meeting at their request so that he could be up to speed on the progress of the charter school. Quinn noted the possibilities that the college may be interested in partnering with in the future, especially if a high school is formed. Jarosz stated, “I was glad that Dr. Quinn attended and was brought up to speed. It is important that potential partners know what is going on now so that when we do approach them in the future they know who we are and that we are a viable partner”.

Additionally REM board members attended the Ogemaw County Business Expo and the Houghton Lake Business Expo in which they provided material regarding charter schools and allowed parents to fill out a pre-enrollment form which allows REM to notify them when registration will begin. The board members also set up an informational booth at the Richfield Township Park on Saturday, May 7 during the Egg Scramble. REM received pre-registration forms for 50 potential students.

REM meets the 1st Thursday of the month at 7pm at the Richfield Township Hall. Their website is www.rem1234.com and they have a facebook page www.facebook.com/KidsABC.

Reprinted with permission by The Roscommon County Weekly April 11, 2012 issue