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updated: 12/4/2013 10:37 AM

Public forum today on Prairie Crossing renewal

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  • Prairie Crossing Charter School is near Byron Colby Barn in a subdivision by the same name in Grayslake. The school seeks another five-year renewal of its state charter.

      Prairie Crossing Charter School is near Byron Colby Barn in a subdivision by the same name in Grayslake. The school seeks another five-year renewal of its state charter.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2012


State education officials will host a public forum today regarding a renewal necessary for the continued operation of Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake.

Prairie Crossing seeks another five-year renewal of its state charter. The Illinois State Charter School Commission will present an overview and gather feedback at the session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the school's gymnasium at 1581 Jones Point Road.

Traditional public schools aren't required to seek state approval to stay open in five-year increments.

However, Prairie Crossing is a smaller, nontraditional school and must go through the process because it was sanctioned by the state in 1999, and allowed to open within the boundaries of Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 and Mundelein-area Fremont Elementary District 79. The Illinois State Board of Education authorized the charter school over objections from officials at districts 50 and 79.

Along with gathering community feedback as part of the renewal process for Prairie Crossing, the state's charter school commission will consider the school's application, academic findings and in-person observations from members. Minutes from a September meeting show charter school commission Chairman Jaime Guzman expressed satisfaction with how much information had been provided for Prairie Crossing's renewal effort.

Prairie Crossing had until Nov. 12 to complete its renewal application. Executive Director Geoff Deigan told the Daily Herald Tuesday he expects the commission to issue a final decision in the renewal in early spring.

Deigan said Prairie Crossing has been working with the commission during the process with good conversation between the two sides.

"Our renewal application was challenging and thought provoking and forced us to look into the future to provide the best possible education services for our community," Deigan said. "The commission's initial findings summarized that (Prairie Crossing) is continuing to achieve the academic, financial and organizational expectations of those that choose our school for the child's public education."

Children in districts 50 and 79 may be sent at no extra cost to the 392-student-capacity Prairie Crossing, which determines enrollment by lottery. The charter school serves kindergarten through eighth grade with an environmentally focused curriculum.

Documents show 44 of 191 applicants were selected for Prairie Crossing for the 2013-14 academic year. The charter school reported 150 students came from Woodland, 17 from Fremont and 24 from outside of both districts' boundaries.

As part of the expiring five-year renewal granted in 2009, the state directed Prairie Crossing to post an annual budget and financial report on the charter school website, and demonstrate how appropriate services are provided to students who are limited in English proficiency.

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