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Ashland Charter School Planning TeamInformation sessions for teachers
A quick history of the project so far…• Community members have been talking about the need for an alternative for the past few years.• A team of teachers, administrators and school board members did research last fall, visiting several charter schools.• The board approved a recommendation for a planning group to draft a grant for a project-based charter last December. The board also approved planning for a middle school charter grant in 2013 and a high school charter grant in 2014.• A committee convened in January (admins, teachers, parents and community members) to draft the grant and met weekly through March.• The school board approved the grant on March 19th.
What a charter school is and isn’t.Is:• A public school, open to all children.• Part of the school district.• Authorized by the school board by means of a performance contract.• Governed by a separate charter council.• Ours is an instrumentality, staffed by certified teachers who are employed by the district.Isn’t:• A voucher school• A private school• A magnet school• Ours is not run by a for-profit corporation• Intended to serve either at-risk or high-performing students.
Things we know for sure about our charter school:• Maximum number of students is 100 in grades 3-5.• Minimum number necessary to have a school is 45.• It will be housed in the 3rd grade pod.• A teacher led school.• It’s project-based and will use advisory based learning communities of 20 students/teacher and students will stay with the same teacher/advisory through each grade.• After the grant funds are used, the board has decided the school must be budget- neutral.• The board has decided that there will be no layoffs to staff the charter school; charter teachers will be district employees.
Things about our charter school that are yet to be decided:• The curriculum• Schedule and school day• Encore/related arts to be decided• Report cards/student assessment system• The role of volunteers• Technology plan• Administrative support• The role of the 3-5 office• Job descriptions
Here’s what Ashland teachers need to know about teaching in the charter school.• If the charter is dissolved, district positions will be maintained, guaranteed. Your job is not at risk because you choose to teach in the charter.• Large amounts of teacher development, including project based learning, technology, project based assessment and curriculum, are included in the grant.• We’ve budgeted extensive paid professional development and planning in the summer, and weekly planning meetings during the school year.• Teachers are employees of the district. The charter council is working on how to do evaluations. Most decisions will be made by teachers by consensus as part of the teacher led model, with accountability to the charter council and the performance contract.
You are warmly invited to consider taking a role in this project.• We are looking for help on the planning team! Joining the planning team doesn’t commit you to anything.• We will be beginning interviews for teachers in December and hiring by January/February.• We will form a learning group for interested teachers next fall.• There are upcoming training opportunities, including one in Park Falls in June, on project based learning.• There’s real space here to have a big impact on the design and curriculum of the school.
Next Steps for the Planning Team• Visioning retreat• Work planning• Kick into high gear in July when we find out whether we got the grant.