D300 to weigh charter school renewal
By Emily McFarlan email@example.com May 15, 2012 10:16AM
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:11AM
ALGONQUIN — The Community Unit School District 300 Board of Education is considering renewing the charter for Cambridge Lakes Charter School in Pingree Grove through 2017.
The school board pulled the renewal of the charter, set to expire in 2014, from its consent agenda Monday night so it could bring the issue up for discussion and a vote later this month.
Charter holder Northern Kane Educational Corp. must submit a request for renewal every three years, according to District 300 attorney Brian Crowley. The school board then must approve the renewal unless it finds there is cause for revocation of the charter or it is not in the best interest of students in the Carpentersville-area district, Crowley said.
Each renewal is good for five years and must be certified by the Illinois State Board of Education, according to his the attorney.
If the board does not vote on renewing the current charter by August, it automatically will renew, Northern Kane CEO Larry Fuhrer pointed out.
Board members were unwilling Monday to let the charter renew itself without discussion. They will vote on the renewal at the next board meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, at the Professional Development Center at Westfield Community School, 2100 Sleepy Hollow Road, Algonquin.
“It may seem to some board members that the last renewal was a short time ago,” Crowley wrote in a memorandum.
That’s because of the amendments to the charter school agreement the board approved in 2010, he explained.
Those amendments lengthened the Pingree Grove school’s program from preschool to eighth grade up to grade 12. It also expanded its virtual learning program to educate those high school students from within the school district, creating the Illinois Online Charter School.
Board members at the time had expressed discomfort signing off on an amended charter school agreement that included such significant changes, which originally had included extending the charter another year.
Crowley also then had said the school was in a “time crunch” as a result of Northern Kane’s delay in answering requests for more information in the renewal from ISBE.
But Crowley described the current renewal in his memorandum as “timely.” It contained “no material amendments,” and the only substantive change was the extension through 2017, he said.
And board member Joe Stevens on Monday praised the school’s blended virtual program. He encouraged the district to look into using the program, available to all students within the district, in place of its Ombudsman Alternative Education program. Ombudsman is for students who learn better in a non-traditional classroom setting and want an alternate route to high school graduation, according to the district.
“My concern is with Ombudsman, we pay for a number of licenses (for the program) whether we use them or not,” Stevens said. “We don’t have to do that with Mr. Fuhrer’s program. I’m not pushing it, but I’d like to rule it out.”