Mesa charter school plans postponed - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Mesa charter school plans postponed

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Posted: Friday, March 19, 2010 3:31 pm | Updated: 3:22 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A nonprofit group set up by the Mesa Unified School District to open a charter school will not move forward with the plans next school year.

A nonprofit group set up by the Mesa Unified School District to open a charter school will not move forward with the plans next school year.

The district's governing board - which will have to approve a facility lease to the nonprofit - has decided it is not the time to open a new school given the economics involved.

"We're probably not going to entertain it for a year, and we'll revisit the issue at that point and decide if it's something we want to do," governing board President Dave Lane said last week.

In January, the Mesa School-Community Alliance received approval for a charter from the Arizona Board for Charter Schools. Groups that receive a charter have two years to open a school but can also apply for an extension.

The district's five-member elected board has met in executive session at least once since January with legal counsel to discuss operating a charter school.

Lane said with pending budget cuts next school year and budget cuts over the last two years - $60 million cut from the state and additional losses from declining enrollment - the opening of a charter school does not fit well into plans.

"The application was made about two years ago. The world was a little different place than it is today," he said. "On the short term, this year it's not something we think is a good thing to do. We're closing programs, reallocating people. We have our hands full."

The application was originally submitted in 2008 but was withdrawn in early 2009, according to state charter board records. It was resubmitted in the fall by Paul Wright, director of development for the Mesa district. He is listed on the charter application as director for the alliance.

The charter was approved for kindergarten through 12th grade, with the first year of operation to serve seventh grade through 12th grade.

The application calls for up to three campuses. Those sites were identified as Superstition School, McKellips School and Riverview High School. Mesa Unified uses those sites now as alternative schools for students who don't perform well on comprehensive campuses.

When and if the charter school gets up and going, the board of the charter corporation will operate separately from the Mesa district governing board, Wright said.

The district is planning several changes for next school year. It is closing Powell Junior High School and opening a community learning center on the site. It is also turning Alma Elementary School into a Franklin, back-to-basics school. The district's current Franklin schools often have waiting lists.

Hendrix Junior High and Frost Elementary will merge as a single full International Baccalaureate academy with one administrator. The two campuses, which sit adjacent to one another, will be one school for students in grades kindergarten through junior high.

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