State sets hearing to review Elgin charter school proposal
A group seeking to open an Elgin charter school will plead its case before a state commission next month for a proposal that failed to gain support from Elgin Area U-46.
The school board in June denied the Elgin Math and Science Academy charter school, citing concerns with the plan's economic soundness and its potential impact on the district. A 2014 proposal by the same charter group was denied by the U-46 board and the Illinois State Charter School Commission.
The commission conducts a public hearing Sept. 7 where people can weigh in on the charter proposal and U-46's denial. Pending review by its staff, the commission will render its decision to grant or deny the appeal Oct. 3.
Since 2011, the state commission has authorized eight charter schools -- including Prairie Crossing in Grayslake -- serving more than 3,600 students. In almost 90 percent of cases, local school boards' decisions are upheld.
If the commission reverses U-46's denial, the Elgin charter school could open in August 2018 under state oversight. It would cater to roughly 200 students in kindergarten to third grade in the first year, adding grades each year through eighth for up to 450 students. As its own educational entity, the school would be responsible for providing all services for special education and at-risk students -- its target audience.
Tuition provided to charters ranges between 75 percent to 125 percent of per pupil costs. The Elgin group is seeking 100 percent of state funding for tuition -- roughly $10,300 per student -- plus categorical funding such as special education and Title I funds for low-income students, for a total of roughly $2.4 million.
The charter group is promised $950,000 in federal grants to assist with the facility's opening, including planning, program design, initial startup costs and implementation of an expeditionary learning model. The proposed school site is the former Fox River Country Day School at 1600 Dundee Ave., which would be leased from the city of Elgin.