Print School board gives first nod to charter schools
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 12:40

Public school systems don’t typically operate a charter school program, but the numbers are increasing every year. Soon, the Camp Verde Unified School District may join that growing list.

The school board gave its approval last week to begin the process of applying for three separate charters. The requests would ultimately have to be approved by the Arizona Charter School Board, said Superintendent Jeff Van Handel, and board member Andrea Wrubel wanted assurances that the board could back out if it wanted to.

The idea is that smaller schools, like most of those in the district, could eventually receive a financial boost from the state, Van Handel said.

If the plan is approved and implemented as soon as possible, the district wouldn’t see a benefit until the 2010-11 school year, Van Handel said.

The three possibilities include two “schools within a school” options and the potential construction of a new charter school on 10 acres of land in the proposed Simonton Ranch development.

Owner Scott Simonton has been open to the idea of giving the school board first crack at the land if they are willing to actually build a school on the property, Van Handel said.

That school, which would start out small, possibly kindergarten to fourth grade, before eventually expanding up to eighth grade, is a candidate for the International Baccalaureate program, a special pre-university program taught by more than 2,000 schools worldwide.

Of course, whether or not a charter school of that nature is feasible in Camp Verde is speculation, Van Handel said. A marketing study would have to be done.

One of the other ideas is for a chartered college prep program at South Verde High School to be taught alongside the school’s technical education courses.

Finally, the board is considering a dual-language charter program for Camp Verde Elementary School.

The program would immerse young children in both Spanish and English, the idea being that it’s far easier to learn a second language when a person is young, Van Handel said.

Also, Van Handel said that studies have shown that native Spanish and English speakers become much more effective at peer tutoring when they understand each other’s language.

There are some disadvantages to charter schools. While there could be a financial gain, charter schools aren’t required to provide transportation like a public school and therefore don’t receive any funding for it.

The initial paperwork is due Wednesday, June 25, Van Handel said.