Albany middle school to become charter school
ALBANY Albany school officials are planning to convert the district's middle school into a charter school using a $225,000 state grant.
The plan is to shift the fifth- through eighth-grade building into a charter school for the 2013-14 school year, Superintendent Steve Guenther said.
"We're really trying to bring learning into the 21st century. If it's good education, then it should be good for all kids, and not just a separate pull-out (for a few)," he said.
The charter school will incorporate project-based learning and place-based learning in the community, infusing technology in all aspects of learning, he said. But the plan isn't to scrap everything the middle school does, he said.
"That's not our game plan," he said. "We want to build off the strengths we have."
What the district is designing fits "with everything everyone is saying that needs to be done with education," he said.
The district, which has a fall K-12 enrollment of 356, has to "get away from kids sitting there getting information—get them engaged in the learning process," Guenther said. "The only way to do that is get funding behind you, get teachers out learning and experiencing different things."
The planning grant allows for faculty development through conferences, workshops and specific training.
The district will be eligible to receive an additional $225,000 implementation grant next year.
The only approval needed is from the school board. The goal is to present the charter to the board in December, Guenther said.
While other districts have converted schools into charter schools, they often have been in large districts where other schools of the same grade levels exist. Guenther cited Montello, Northwoods and Highland as other districts in different phases of converting their only schools of certain grade levels into charters.
Districts are required to offer students an alternative to charter schools, but districts with experience in the conversion show that probably won't be an issue, Guenther said.
"The reality is, if it turns out even half as good as we think, it'll be so much better than what we've ever done," he said.