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January 25, 2022

1/13/2022 11:01:00 AM
Highland board looks at ending charter school arrangement

The Highland. School Board discussed the future of remaining as a charter school at their December meeting last Wednesday.
Superintendent Bryce Bird has been compiling information. on the value of staying as a charter school or dissolving the charter and return to a public entity. He said the value of staying a charter school has diminished as there are not the grants available and more power is being given to the charter board to make decisions, taking away that from the functioning school board.
Bird said most of the funding available for charters are start-up funds and funds for new class offerings.  He said Highland used funds to start their environmental project.
One of the changes that will come if the charter is dissolved is that the start of the school year which will be in September rather than the mid-August start the district currently uses. The only way a public school district can change the start date is if it is impacted by a construction project.
"It seems that charter schools now operate with less money and more restrictions," Bird said.
Bird said he will craft information to involve public and the board can make a decision at a later date.
Presently all three schools-high school, middle school and elementary school-all operate as charter schools.
Bird also discussed the recently received school audit and said once again the suggestions is to have more "eyes" watching district funds which is basically impossible in a small district.
The board commended the district staff working with finances for compleating prescribed tasks with accounts over the past year.
The board received a presentation from Kim Maier who was representing Southwest Technical College who discussed the programs offered students where they can receive college credit while still in high school. She presented figures of how Highland students have participated and discussed future expanded offerings.
Maier said a per credit cost at SWTC is $140 with credits at a four year school much more. She added there are possibilities of credits transferring to a four year school and conversations regarding transfer of credits should take place before enrolling at a new school.
"SWTC does a great job working with four year schools," said Tarrell. He said his own daughter has taken advantage of what SWTC offers and has 30 credits to use when she goes to school in the fall.
"That's 30 credits I don't have to pay for," he said.
Bird also commended SWTC for what they do.
"For the district it is money well spent," he said.
Maier presented the district with a banner and called attention to the fact it has earned a silver rating.
"I will be back next year to update it," she said.
Board President Mike Dreischmeier expressed the need to get information out concerning offerings to families prior to students signing up for classes for next term.
"With registration scheduled soon parents should be made aware now," he said.
During reports Tarrell told the board there was a COVID blast in the elementary school after Thanksgiving break but it seems to be under control. now with only five cases.
Tarrell also discussed a project by the "Cupcake Girls," a group of students who is working with a staff member to make and sell cupcakes. The proceeds are going for the Veterans Wall which also received a $1000 donation from the Margaret Aide family. The total raised so far is close to $3600....
(See the rest of the story in the December 16, 2021 Chronicle issue)

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