Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2004

District to pursue charter school

April 13, 2004


The Lawrence school district will proceed with plans for an online charter school, though the project will be significantly scaled back from the initial proposal.

The school board on Monday heard of plans to offer two grades of instruction -- probably fifth and sixth grades -- through a $101,709 federal grant. The district had proposed to offer third- through eighth-grade courses if it had received the entire $633,225 it had requested.

Karen Vespestad, director of grants, board services and strategic planning, plans to advertise for an administrator for the charter school immediately.

"If we find the right person, get that person in place and redo the budget, we can start small," she said. "It certainly has huge potential."

The district had planned to hire a principal, two curriculum coordinators and a Web technician for the school. It would have provided reading, writing, math, social studies and science to students not enrolled in public schools, such as those enrolled in private schools and home schools.

Now, the district plans to hire one person to oversee the administrative, curricular and Web development. Officials also had considered dropping the school entirely instead of offering the scaled-back version.

"We want to get that person in place and see what their vision is," Vespestad said.

No timeline has been set for the school's first enrollment.

Sandee Crowther, executive director of planning and program development, said each of the 14 districts that received charter school funding received less than the amount for which they applied. Some districts may opt not to establish a charter school instead of having a scaled-down version.

"If they find a way to give us more, because other people might turn down the funds, we'd accept it," Crowther said.

The Lawrence school board on Monday signed off on $159,615 in improvements that will bring six elementary schools into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.The improvements are the result of an agreement with the federal Office of Civil Rights, which received a complaint about school facilities from a district parent last year. Independence Inc. completed the ADA report, which was ordered under the agreement with the OCR.The improvements -- at Cordley, Prairie Park, Deerfield, Sunflower, Quail Run and Langston Hughes schools -- include reconfiguring doorways, making rest rooms and parking lots accessible and ordering ADA-compliant playground equipment.The district plans to use its own work force in addition to outside contractors to complete the projects.

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