District 300 renews charter for Pingree Grove school
By Emily McFarlan firstname.lastname@example.org May 29, 2012 11:04PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 8:55AM
ALGONQUIN — The Community Unit School District 300 Board of Education has renewed the charter for Cambridge Lakes Charter School in Pingree Grove through 2017.
The school board had pulled the renewal of the charter, set to expire in 2014, from its consent agenda at its last board meeting to delay the vote for discussion.
It unanimously approved that renewal without comments at its regular board meeting Tuesday night. Board member Chris Stanton and President Anne Miller were absent. The board had discussed the renewal at its last meeting, and nothing new had been added to the charter, board member Dave Alessio noted afterward.
That was a marked departure from the charter’s last renewal in 2009 and amendments in 2010, when conversation became heated and board members blamed Northern Kane Educational Corp. CEO Larry Fuhrer for slowing the renewal process.
Northern Kane Educational Corp. must submit a request for renewal every three years, according to a memorandum to the board from 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 the attorney.
The amendments made in 2010 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.
Crowley 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 the attorney described the current renewal in his memorandum as “timely.” And, as Alessio also noted, it contained “no material amendments,” he said. The only substantive change was the extension through 2017.
At the meeting earlier this month, board member Joe Stevens praised the charter school’s blended virtual program and encouraged District 300 to look into using the program 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.
Cambridge Lakes is one of only three charter schools in Chicago’s collar counties, according to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. A group of Elgin residents registered with INCS as the Elgin Charter School Initiative currently is working to bring a charter school to neighboring Elgin School District U46.
Charter holder Northern Kane Educational Corp. now must submit its renewal application to the Illinois State Board of Education for review before it can take effect, according to the memorandum by Crowley.