Middle school pursues charter option

By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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Tuesday E.V. Cain Middle School parents received an automated message informing them their child’s school is considering moving to a charter model. The school is holding an informational meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at E.V. Cain in the Wildcat (small) gymnasium in Auburn. Auburn Union Elementary School District Assistant Superintendent Douglas Crancer said they’ve already approached staff about the idea, and they were supportive, but had questions. He said nothing is decided yet; they are just taking the necessary first steps in the charter direction. “The first step was talking with the staff,” Crancer said Wednesday. “The second step is talking with the parents.” Charter school’s funding per student is a little greater than the traditional model and grants are more available. Crancer estimates the charter will generate about $400,000 in additional revenue district wide. As a charter school E.V. Cain’s focus will be on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Charters are written by staff, teachers or parents and supported by all three groups and have to outline how the school will provide parents with an education alternative but still be open and accessible to all students. The school district is still facing some heavy financial troubles due to the state’s budget cuts and declining enrollment. “(The charter’s) not going to be the financial savior on that one,” Crancer said. Going charter means the school can work on its program and attract students from outside the district, which combats declining enrollment. In addition to E.V. Cain many other Placer County schools are pursuing the charter option, such as Weimar Hills and Sierra Hills schools. An attractive element of the charter model is the flexibility. E.V. Cain Principal Randy Ittner said going to a charter model will allow the school really focus on the best educational design for the students. “You can think outside the box because you don’t have to go through every state regulation,” Ittner said. “These kids learn in different ways and if we can implement that in the classroom students will achieve at a higher level.” A charter model allows the school to bring in different textbooks, change the bell schedule, and implement new technology in all classrooms. He said the curriculum might feature Google applications and digital video podcasts incorporated into all subjects. Ittner said he’d like to see classes on Web design and robotics. The informational meeting will feature speakers from surrounding charter schools talking about the benefits and challenges of forming a charter. Parents of fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders are encouraged to attend. “It gives you other options and another funding mechanism to add more programs that can make a difference,” Ittner said. Ittner said he hopes the school will go to the charter model for the 2010-11 school year. E.V. Cain’s charter informational meeting 6 p.m. tonight E.V. Cain Middle School in the Wildcat Gymnasium (small gym) 150 Palm Avenue Auburn, CA 95603-3712 (530) 823-6106