Charter school moves ahead with plans

Charter school moves ahead with plans

Proposal could be approved Jan. 11 and sent to state commission

By Kate Baldwin, Daily News staff writer

Monday, January 1, 2007 – Page Updated at 11:28:01 AM

A proposal for a new Moscow charter school should head to the Idaho Public Charter School Commission this month after facing some delays this fall.Palouse Prairie Charter School board chairman Nils Peterson said the charter school board likely will approve its charter proposal at its Jan. 11 meeting. Once approved by the board, the proposal will be sent to the state commission for authorization.

“We did not submit the charter when we’d hoped,” Peterson said, referring to earlier plans to submit the proposal to the state by Thanksgiving. “The task turned out to be more complex than we’d estimated and then holidays intervened.”

The proposed charter school first sought its approval through the Moscow School District. Its board members stopped that process in September and decided to go through the state commission instead.

“The parents that I talk to, as well as other community members, have been interested in how we’re progressing and anxious for us to make it to this next milestone and have a charter,” Peterson said. “It’s been a very positive experience.”

While the change caused some delay, Peterson said the charter benefited in multiple ways from the detailed input it gained from the Moscow School District.

The proposal has been revamped with improved sections for its learning outcomes, its student handbook and its budget, he said.

For example, the learning outcomes section creates a tighter system of accountability for the school that will use the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound model, or ELOB. Peterson said this model uses a variety of principles that can’t be measured by the Idaho Standards Achievement Test.

The charter school still will require students to meet the minimums set by the ISAT, which is the state’s tool for meeting the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind act. However, the charter school will have additional standards that coincide with its hands-on learning model.

Peterson said the learning outcomes section of the proposal now includes a rubric for measuring critical thinking and reflective thinking through a portfolio system.

“I am very excited to be holding ourselves to standards, I think that will be different,” Peterson said.

Once the proposal reaches the commission, there will be the same time frame for approval that existed through the Moscow School District. The commission has 60 days from the receipt of the proposal to conduct a public hearing in Boise. There then will be another 60 days before the commission must make a final decision.

“It could run us out well into May or June,” Peterson said.

According to its proposal, the charter school is scheduled to open in August 2008. It will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade. As the students graduate sixth grade, the school will expand to serve first seventh grade, and then eighth grade.

The original plans called for a school with roughly 80 students. Further study over the past months revealed the school should plan for a range of 110 to 120 students, Peterson said.

“We’re not worried that we can reach the kind of enrollment number we’ll need,” he said. “As we get a little further in the process, you’ll start to see us become more visible in terms of a marketing effort to build up those numbers of people who have expressed interest.”

The proposed school has not taken steps toward opening a facility or hiring staff. Those are “things that just have to wait until we have a charter in place,” Peterson said.

Kate Baldwin can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 239, or by e-mail at

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