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Board says, “yes” to charter

E.V. Cain’s charter petition will now go before the state
By: Bridget Jones Journal staff writer
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E.V. Cain is one step closer to becoming a charter school. The Board of Trustees for the Auburn Union School District voted to approve E.V. Cain’s charter petition Wednesday night. A unanimous vote by board members will now send the petition to the California Department of Education for review. Michele Schuetz, superintendent of Auburn Union Elementary School District, said the petition might reach the state’s agenda by June. “I’d be surprised if we didn’t hear anything by August,” said Douglas Crancer, assistant superintendent of business and facilities for the district. Schuetz said the district will budget for charter status next school year, but any upgrades to technology will have to wait until the school is awarded the charter funds. Schools are given a sum of money upon the decision to make them charter. After that, yearly funding is also available, said Clark Gehlbach, president of the Auburn Union School District board of trustees. “If we are accepted, then that will come with a reasonable amount of money, which we will use to upgrade the technology at E.V. Cain,” Gehlbach said. Schuetz said a charter focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, is an exciting possibility. The charter is focused on 21st century learning and preparing students for high-tech jobs, hopefully in Placer County, Schuetz said. Daniel Berlant, trustee on the district board, said Friday the community had been expressing a lot of interest in a charter school. “It was made very clear to us by the parents and staff that this was something we needed to look at,” Berlant said. “And we never had a charter school, so we needed to look in that direction.” Seventy-five percent of E.V. Cain’s staff voted for charter status in April. Schuetz said becoming a charter school might actually help keep some programs intact. “More funding would make them more able to purchase more equipment,” she said. “E.V. Cain has wonderful electives, and without doing something to increase revenue, that might be considered as something to cut in the coming years.” Charter status would also give parents more choices with their children’s school schedules. Students could participate in a regular five-day school week, home schooling or a combination of both, Schuetz said. “There are some students that maybe just want to come for band or a high-level math class, but for other subjects they’re at home,” said Randy Ittner, principal of E.V. Cain. “Every student learns differently, and it just gives options for parents.” Ittner said he is excited to find ways to integrate technology into the classrooms. “It allows us to go above and beyond,” he said. “There are so many possibilities. It just gives you options you don’t have when you’re not a charter school.” Jennifer Lewandowski, whose son will be a sixth-grader at E.V. Cain next year, said she’s looking forward to the possibility of a charter school. “I think it’s great, because the parents have an opportunity to work closely with the school staff to see how they’re delivering instruction that makes sense for a 21st century education,” she said. Lewandowski said the technology updates that could come with charter status would enrich students’ educations. “I think this just allows for more real-life application of their assessments and projects,” she said. “I think it’s also a good way for kids to stay organized. I think middle-school students really should start taking responsibility for themselves.” Schuetz said she thinks the board’s decision reflects that of the district. “We think it’s exciting,” she said. “I think they all realized the potential of enhancing E.V. Cain’s programs.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com