Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Proposed charter school seeking state approval

School board votes to pass decision on to charter commission


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Mary Gervase

    Syringa Mountain School, a charter school proposed for Blaine County, has now filed its petition for approval with the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.
    “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we can convince them to authorize it,” said Mary Gervase, who is leading the effort for establishment of the school.
    If approved, the school would become state funded, as authorized under the Public Charter Schools Act that was passed by the state Legislature in 1998.
    Gervase, who serves as director of the independent Mountain School near Bellevue, has said previously that The Mountain School will close in the spring of 2014. Her intent, and that of Mountain School parents and supporters, is that the new state-funded Syringa Mountain School would be operational by the fall of 2014.
    Submission of the Syringa Mountain School petition to the state charter commission followed a Blaine County School District board of trustees’ decision on May 11 to pass the petition on to the state.
    The School District was earlier asked by Gervase to authorize formation of the charter school, but at the May 11 meeting she requested an early decision rather than waiting the 75 days the board of trustees legally had to make a decision.
    Board Chairman Steve Guthrie noted that the board would need a significant amount of time to consider authorizing the charter school.
    “What I’m hearing is, because of the time issue, that you’d prefer we pass you on to the charter commission,” Guthrie said. “Our goal is not to slow your progress.”
    “I’m getting the feeling that you’d rather have us cut you free from our plodding methods,” said Trustee Paul Bates.
    The board vote to pass the decision on to the state was unanimous.
    “The best of luck and you know we’ll be partners,” Guthrie said. “We want you to be successful, and we’ll be here to work with you.”
    Gervase said Tuesday that she is pleased with the school board’s decision.
    “The school board made it clear,” she said. “They graciously agreed to wish us well and pass us on with their support.”
    If the Syringa Mountain School is approved by the charter commission, it envisions an initial enrollment of 165 students, grades K-5. The school would later like to expand to grades K-8.
    A major concern of school districts over charter schools is that they take students and thus state funding away from the districts. Those concerns were expressed by Blaine County School District officials at an earlier board meeting concerning the proposed charter school.
    The Syringa Mountain School would utilize the same Waldorf Education teaching methodology now used at The Mountain School. The Waldorf methodology is often described as a “holistic” approach to education, considering child studies as an art and presenting subject matter in a way intended to parallel a child’s experiences. Waldorf schools throughout the world emphasize “educating the heart, head and hand,” sustainable living, experiential learning and minimal use of technology.
Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com


Learn about Waldorf Education
Advocates of the proposed Syringa Mountain School charter school will explain Waldorf Education at a public meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30, in the Distance Learning Room at Wood River High School. “This will be the first of what will be a number of public events,” said Mary Gervase, who is leading the effort to establish the school by the fall of 2014.







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