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Charter school proposal awaits decision

Canby School Board mulling over proposal for charter school at Canby Grove

The Canby School District is considering a proposal for the district’s first charter school.

The district board of directors held a public hearing Jan. 15 on an application by the Canby Grove Experimental Charter School and has up to 30 days to approve or deny the proposal. The board expects to present that decision at its Feb. 5 meeting.

Supporters envision a charter school incorporating “expeditionary learning,” a project-based education model developed by Outward Bound.

That model emphasizes thinking critically and high levels of student engagement, achievement and character development.

“It is an incredible curriculum which has produced incredible results all over the country,” said Dan Silver, executive director at Canby Grove Christian Center. “The thought behind it is that we’re all passengers. All in it together. It is a program that helps kids develop leadership skills.”

Silver said that test results are between 7-10 percent higher than most schools.

“It’s a real hands-on type learning experience. Kids learn in all kinds of ways. It’s an alternative way of learning that is really helpful for a lot of kids.”

If the proposal is approved, Silver would like to open the school in September. The charter school has already lined up a teacher from the Beaverton School District. She has her administrative license and would serve as the school administrator.

The first year, Silver would like to see the charter school with between 150-200 students and eventually grow to 400-500 students.

“We’ll be a certified K-12, but launch with K-8 and then add a ninth grade year the following year, then a 10th grade and so on until we have a full high school.”

Startup costs would likely be covered through grants. Silver said that there were 18 charter school grants in the region last year averaging about $200,000.

The charter school would be paid for through funding the Canby School District gets from the government, then passed on to the school.

Silver said the funding is per child, per day. The school district would pass on a percentage of the money to the school to help fund it.

“The advantage to the school district is that it recaptures some kids they have lost,” Silver said. “There are a lot of Canby students who are in other charter schools. Most charter schools in the area have a waiting list, so the need is there.”

“It also provides the district with some flexibility with kids it may be having some struggles with – it gives them an alternative setting for the kids to succeed in.”

Canby Grove submitted a proposal in December that was deemed incomplete and returned to resubmit its application in October, said Samuel “Trip” Goodall, city schools superintendent. That led to the public hearing Jan. 15 and the board has 30 days to vote on the feasibility of the proposal.

If the proposal is approved the applicant and school board will negotiate a charter agreement, a contract establishing the rights and obligations of each party.

If the proposal is denied, the applicant can appeal to the State Board of Education.

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