Middle school charter moves forward

Board to vote May 12
By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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E.V. Cain Middle School is moving forward with becoming a charter school focused on 21st century learning. Kim Lightfoot has an eighth-grader leaving E.V. Cain and a fifth-grader on his way in. She’s the president of the Parent Teacher Club and she’s particularly excited about the possibilities the charter will bring to the school. “I think the charter itself is great for E.V. Cain,” Lightfoot said. “I think it's going to make these students more prepared for Placer (High School).” Earlier this month school official sent out a message to parents alerting them to the possible move to charter status. A key element of a charter is parent and teacher involvement, Lightfoot said. “I hope it brings more parental involvement at the middle school,” Lightfoot said. “I think at a middle school level it is so important to be involved with your child’s education.” The E.V. Cain Charter petition went before the Auburn Union School District board Wednesday night for an informational hearing and public forum, after being approved by more than 75 percent of the school staff earlier that day. Daniel Berlant, Auburn Union School District trustee, said he’s fully supportive of the move and will vote yes when it comes before the board for a final decision on May 12. “We’re running a bare-bones district,” Berlant said. “By looking at a charter we are now looking at revenue sources we wouldn’t have if we didn’t go charter. I think it is essential.” Going to a charter status allows the school to apply for grants not available to traditional schools, it also places the spending power in the hands of the local schools, instead of being dictated by the state. Berlant said it’s an issue of local control. E.V. Cain would become what’s called a STEM Charter, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. “Its focus is on 21st century learning and being able to live in a world where technology is how we communicate, work and play,” Berlant said. Berlant said this allows the school to save valuable programs it otherwise would need to cut, such as a rocketry program. “But it’s not just about shooting off rockets. You have to take in math and things kids don’t normally think about,” Berlant said. “You learn better when you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re having fun.” Berlant said in talking to parents and teachers throughout the process most of the concerns arise from the unknown. “Listening to the parents’ concerns, everybody is cautious about what the future holds,” Berlant said. “We’ve never had a charter so there’s a lot of unknowns out there. There are lots of questions and concerns because no one knows what it’s going to look like.” The E.V. Cain’s charter petition also includes a home-study option and Superintendent Michele Schuetz said she’s working on a second charter for a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade home-study charter, also to launch next school year. Melody Stone can be reached at