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Impending move means late start next August; board urges lobbying to secure funds for gifted

Detailed plans for the move to a new building this summer emerged at the Crocker board’s  monthly meeting, March 24.

On July 30, Crocker officially takes over a large building on General Taylor Street, and principal Charmaine Robertson is seeking another school to share the space. Robertson said she has turned down one prospective co-tenant; she wants to partner with a school that  has “a similar background and grade levels,” She said.

“I am trying to find someone who suits where we are and is not too big. We have the final say on who moves in. Also, we want the other school to know that this will be a temporary arrangement,” she said. “As we grow, we will need our own space. They should know that while they are with us, they need to be looking for their own permanent space.”

While the new building is billed as energy efficient, board chairwoman Grisela Jackson said it’s important that staff members be properly trained. “The training we receive from the people who built these systems is key. We all need to know how to operate things for maximum efficiency,” Jackson said.

Robertson said there would be ample training on all of the new systems, including lighting, alarms, and heating and cooling.

While Crocker is not adding a sixth grade next school year as had been hoped, enrollment remains steady. “Next year’s enrollment projection is 20 children per class. The state allows up to 26 children per classroom, but we like to stay in the 20-24 per-class range. We want to fill the seats without overcrowding them,” Robertson said.

She also noted that with such a late move-in date, school would be starting a week later than usual. The physical move will take place the first week of August, meaning the 2012-2013 start date for teachers is now Aug. 13, with classes beginning Aug. 20. Robertson said she will begin discussion with faculty members on how to make up the lost week.

Another issue raised in the principal’s report was the increasing frequency of visits to the school by  Recovery School District staff. The RSD has established a local office to maintain closer relations with charter schools. Robertson said teams – typically three people – spend five to 10 minutes moving through  a classroom, occasionally speaking with teachers or students.

The visits “offer the support we need as a school, and build relationships,” Robertson said. “They are looking to spend more time in the schools and really see what our needs are. While I have not been given any follow-up from the visits, I assume eventually some sort of feedback will be given. The representatives don’t have any sort of checklists or paperwork; it has all been informal at this point,” she added. The board was provided with dates of future visits. The next is scheduled in late April followed by three visits in May.

Robertson also discussed aspects of the latest report on the Minimum Foundation Program, which allocates per-student state money to schools. She pointed out that the MFP does not provide funds for gifted children.

“Every other exceptionality gets some sort of funding, but there is nothing concerning the gifted children. We pay for a gifted resource teacher, and also around $700 to have an initial screening done, yet no money comes back to us,” Robertson said, noting that Crocker’s enrollment includes six or seven gifted children.

Board member John Jones said the issue should be brought to the attention of state  legislators. “Ms. Robertson should find someone in the legislature she can pick up the phone and regularly speak to about this,” Jones said. “Let’s start out on a small level, just with us as a board dealing with one legislator – it would begin a small brushfire. Then let the issue grow. Bring in parents and more people as the issue turns into a small fire and continues to grow.”

The meeting began at 11:10 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.

Members present in addition to Jackson, Jones and Robertson were Mary Ellen Alexander, Stephen Boyd, Shaun Rafferty, Simonne Robinson, and Edward Scharfenberg.

 

 

 

 

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