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New K-5 charter school enrolling students

District hosting informational meeting May 1
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn Union School District is accepting students for the Alta Vista Community Charter. On May 1 the district is hosting a parent meeting in the multipurpose room at Alta Vista School to answer questions about the new charter school, open to kindergarten through fifth graders. School officials say parents have already expressed interest by picking up enrollment packets. Some Auburn parents say they are looking forward to having another educational option for their children and the concept of individualized learning plans it offers. The charter school’s opening is contingent upon at least 85 students enrolling for the 2012-2013 school year. It will be tuition-free, taught by credentialed teachers and allow students to choose from a variety of learning options, including in-seat, school-based instruction, independent study, or a personalized combination of both. “We have had 40 parents that have picked up packets,” said Michele Schuetz, superintendent of the Auburn Union School District. Schuetz said staff and the charter’s development committee will field questions at the meeting so parents can get all of the information they need to make an informed choice about whether the charter is right for their child. Schuetz said parents of students at the charter school will have input in their child’s learning plan and there will be room for flexibility. Julie Cortez, a parent on the developmental committee, said the flexibility offered in the charter school is one thing that appeals to her. She decided to home school her daughter Hannah, 7, through a virtual private school after realizing that traditional public school wasn’t meeting her needs. Hannah is currently in the fourth grade and Cortez said other students that are outliers in the public school system may be able to benefit from the charter’s flexible format. “We realized she doesn’t fit into the typical public school mold and we had to meet her needs. She is in a private school right now, but it’s a virtual,” Cortez said. “We are paying full-tuition for an elementary student and we didn’t plan on doing that. I want the money to stay in the district.” Cortez said while she is still in the process of deciding if the school will be the right fit for her daughter, the program has a lot to offer parents who want a customized alternative to traditional public school. Her two oldest children were in Gifted and Talented Education in the public school system, but she said the program usually didn’t offer enough to keep them challenged throughout school. That made the transition to college more difficult for her son because he was being challenged for the first time, she said. Her hope is that the charter will be one way for all students to have the option of an education that is more tailored to their unique capabilities. “I love the fact that the charters are cropping up, but I can see where it is hitting the local school district because people are leaving the school district to go to charter,” Cortez said. “You are giving parents the chance to stay in their own community and keep the money were it is needed, and you are not sacrificing your child’s education.” At times, homeschooling can be isolating, which is why the hybrid option is so desirable, she said. “I really want these kids to love learning in the true sense and not just rhetoric,” Cortez said. “The communities need a brick and mortar school.” Lisa Voss also served on the charter’s developmental committee. She said she agrees that the flexible format is appealing. Currently, her oldest daughter attends E.V. Cain Charter Middle School for most of the day, but learns math and science at home. Voss, who is a math teacher, said this format has worked well and would be a good option for elementary students, too. She said she also likes that charter gives students the flexibility to work above grade level. “I just think it just gives you flexibility as far as curriculum and how you approach each individual child,” Voss said. “I think it’s really nice to just offer another option for people.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.