Charter school moving forward

With grant funding approved by both the Merrill and Marathon school districts, planning is going forward for the Maple Grove School Collaborative Expeditionary Learning Charter.
The school boards of both districts still need to officially approve the contract for the charter school, said MAPS curriculum director Dave Brandvold.
A six-member governance council has been established to function as a school board for the school.
The charter school will go into operation for the 2012-13 school year. All MAPS staff currently working at the school will be guaranteed a position in the MAPS district. The charter school will hold its own hiring process for teachers involving the governance board, along with one administrator each from the Marathon and Merrill districts.
All current Maple Grove students are guaranteed a place in the charter school, as are children of the governance board members and teachers. The next priority would go to any elementary students in the Merrill or Marathon districts who wish to enroll in the charter school.
MAPS will hold informational meetings prior to the open enrollment period, Feb. 6-24, for families in the Merrill district who are interested in enrolling their children in the charter school. Busing would be provided from Merrill to Maple Grove for those students who wish to attend the charter.
Enrollment in the charter school will be limited to 120 students. If more than that are interested in enrolling, a lottery would be held to select the students who get in.
Any remaining space in the charter school enrollment would be offered to open enrollment from outside the two districts. Open enrollment from outside the sponsoring districts would bring additional revenue to the charter school, Brandvold noted.
The charter school grant provides $200,000 in the first year for planning purposes, and up to $400,000 over the next two years of operation. For the planning grant, the current school year is considered the first year of the grant. The sponsoring districts are committed to the charter school through the 2013-14 school year. The grant money can be spent on staff professional development and the costs of establishing the Expeditionary Learning curriculum. It cannot be spent on staff salaries.
Melissa Voigt, president of the Maple Grove governance council, said they are currently in the process of hiring a lead teacher, who will serve as the building administrator and help develop the curriculum for the school. The school’s staffing needs will be determined based on the number of students who choose Maple Grove during the February enrollment period.
The curriculum will be based on Expeditionary Learning (EL). EL is an approach to education that involves engaging with communities, achieving personal bests, making learning relevant and solving real-world problems.
“Everything ties in and flows from subject to subject,” Voigt said. “It’s a progressive and innovative education style that helps all students.”

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