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Hart board considers third charter proposal

Posted: December 13, 2012 6:15 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2012 6:15 p.m.

The William S. Hart Union High School District board has 60 days to decide whether to welcome a third charter school to the district after holding a public hearing on the issue this week.

The Apollo Public Schools organization has petitioned the district for permission to open and operate a school for seventh and eighth grade students.

The Apollo Charter School would operate under a “blended learning” model, with certain portions of each school day tailored to suit the needs of individual students, according to the charter petition.

The blended learning model combines traditional face-to-face classroom learning with computer- and technology-driven activities.

Johnny Jin, the co-founder of Apollo Public Schools and applicant for the Apollo school charter, said the model being proposed goes beyond what is already offered in the Hart district.

“This kind of innovation is far more than just reading textbooks on an iPad,” Jin said.

Jin said the school would target low-income, minority and English-learning students for enrollment.

A charter school in the Hart district would be the first opened by Apollo Public Schools. Vicki Engbrecht, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, said this presents a risk to the district.

“There is no record of proven success for a full-time, year-long program of this type,” Engbrecht said. “We would have to trust the credentials of the people before us.”

Board members raised several issues with the proposal during Wednesday night’s hearing. New board President Joe Messina questioned what the Apollo Charter School would offer that existing district schools do not.

“We see charter schools all the time,” Messina said. “I want to see the brass tacks.”

Another issueraised was the effect the charter school may have on enrollment in the Hart district. Jin said maximum enrollment for the school would be set at 450 students.

Engbrecht said Apollo, like any other charter school, raises concerns about a potential financial impact on the district, since some school funding is based on enrollment.

Reached by phone Thursday, Jin said Apollo Charter School could be the first school of this type reviewed by the Hart district, but it will most likely not be the last.

“The kind of attention this model attracts I think is indicative of the future,” Jin said. “This is where education is moving toward.”




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