Pleasant Ridge district hopes to open charter school |

Pleasant Ridge district hopes to open charter school

Nevada County’s largest elementary school district could soon have its first-ever charter school.

Supporters hope to have the new K-6 school open this August as part of the 2,100-student Pleasant Ridge Union School District, based in southern Nevada County.

The district’s board of trustees is expected to consider a petition for the charter school at its board meeting Tuesday.

The charter school’s educational mission and the number of students haven’t been determined, said Pleasant Ridge Assistant Superintendent Linda Kramer.

It would be located at Cottage Hill Elementary School, with sixth-graders taking classes at Magnolia Intermediate School.

If approved for the 2005-06 school year, the Pleasant Ridge charter school would be Nevada County’s seventh charter school.

Kramer said the district supports any plan that gives parents more options within the Pleasant Ridge district.

“We need to allow a choice for parents who want their children educated (here),” she said.

In order for the charter to proceed, a petition must be signed by at least 50 percent of the parents who plan to enroll their children in the school next year, as mandated by state law.

The board is expected to receive the petition during the first week of May. The petition must be submitted to the state board of education by May 20 so that it may be considered in time to establish the school by mid-August.

Little information to date has been presented to board members about how the charter would operate.

Charter schools were first allowed under the California Charter Schools Act of 1992. The law allows districts to establish schools governed by a separate council, with financial oversight coming from the board of the charter’s sponsoring school district. The schools generally have a specific focus, such as the arts or individualized learning.

Board member Roger White said the charter could offer another reason for parents to keep their children in Pleasant Ridge instead of looking elsewhere for education.

His fellow board member Rick Lyon said the school could draw students from the neighboring Auburn Union Elementary School District, which has been faced with a budget crisis in the past year.

“If parents don’t feel their needs are being met,” he said, “there certainly is value in discussing this school.”

There are more than 400 charter schools statewide, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and there are six in western Nevada County.

Charter schools, approved by the state in 1992, are public schools distinguished by the following characteristics:

• Each school is governed by a charter council of parents independent of the school board.

• Finances and personnel issues are overseen by a public school district.

• Schools often have a specific focus, such as the arts, science or individualized learning.

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