Charter group appeals to U-46 to approve Elgin school
The Elgin Charter School Initiative will make a final push Monday to persuade the Elgin Area School District U-46 school board to accept its charter proposal.
Representatives of the charter design team and the group's supporters will be at Monday night's school board meeting for the official vote on the proposal. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 355 E. Chicago St.
U-46's charter school evaluation committee last month recommended denial of the proposal to create a new math and science elementary charter school in Elgin.
The Elgin charter group this week filed a response to the committee's key findings addressing the concerns raised.
"We felt that actually many of those issues had been addressed in our application satisfactorily," charter group President Karen Schock said. "There was some additional information and clarification of those points that we wanted the school board to reflect on before the actual vote was taken."
The U-46 committee noted that the charter proposal appears to target Elgin students, but charter schools must be open to all school district residents.
Schock has said Elgin is being targeted because eight of 10 district schools under restructuring are in Elgin. Yet, applications for the charter school's lottery would be open to the entire district.
Committee members expressed reservations about the proposed site for the school.
The charter group is proposing to open the Elgin Math and Science Academy on the site of the Fox River Country Day School, 1600 Dundee Ave., owned by the city of Elgin. The city has yet to approve a lease with the charter group.
The site falls within the boundaries of Community Unit District 300 but, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, a neighboring school district can approve the charter school application. The charter school would draw students primarily from within U46's boundaries.
Schock said Wednesday the group proposed two alternate school sites in Elgin -- Highland Christian Academy, 2250 W. Highland Ave., and Good Shepherd, 1111 Van St. -- but also a fourth viable location has become available since the charter application was filed -- the former Larkin Center in Elgin, which will be vacant after July 31.
Schock said another issue the committee raised is its definition of at-risk students.
The proposed charter school would offer kindergarten through second-grade classes in the first year, and eventually expand to eighth grade.
"The district identified the at-risk students as those in grades nine through 12 who had dropped out or were in danger of dropping out," Schock said. "Our contention is we have at-risk kids from K-8 (kindergarten through eighth grade) whom we intend to serve with a program that has proved effective with an at-risk population. If we serve that population effectively, that will reduce the number of at-risk students in ninth through 12th grades."
Schock said she hopes the school board will review the group's response before rendering its decision Monday. Should the board reject the proposal, "We have the basis for an appeal with the state," she added.
The deadline to file an appeal with the state is 30 days after denial.