CALDWELL -- Parents and students at one Caldwell high school found out Wednesday that their newly-formed school isn't currently accredited by the state, among other problems. Now, school officials will attend a meeting Thursday with the State Board of Education to address a laundry list of concerns about Heritage Community Charter School.
A brief history of the school and its problems
The 2011-2012 school year was the first year Heritage Charter School offered classes to students. Now, both parents and staff say the experience hasn't been ideal. Parents and students came to Wednesday's school board meeting with concerns about the future of Heritage Community Charter School.
That's when KTVB caught up with Heritage student Joanna Rico. Rico and her classmates found out on Wednesday that their school wasn't accredited by the state of Idaho. Rico said she felt like crying.
"I'm going to start crying again because it's ridiculous that we have to do all this and start a whole year over," Rico told KTVB.
Rico is worried that if Heritage doesn't get accreditation, she will have to repeat a year of school, and now plans to enroll in a different high school for next year. "When I came to the school, I was so excited that I'd be graduating next year from a good school," she said.
Despite those concerns, some still support the school
"This is a learning experience for everyone. This is a brand new school," said Stacy Chadwick, whose daughter just finished her junior year at Heritage.
Unlike some parents KTVB talked with, Chadwick isn't pulling her daughter out of the school. "My daughter was looking forward to coming here, and her experience has been very positive," Chadwick said.
Yet despite that local vote of confidence, Idaho's State Board of Education lists major concerns with the school's finances, governance, and academics in a 17-page agenda that will all be addressed at state meeting on Thursday.
It's also important to note that while Heritage Charter School offers classes for many grades, the state's accreditation status only affects the high school.
School officials haven't talked yet
Both the school's principal and vice principal declined KTVB's request for an interview on Wednesday. School board members said they will answer questions at Thursday's meeting.
Students and parents hope Thursday's meeting will hopefully answer their many questions about the accreditation process and the school's future. However, some expect that accreditation process could take a number of months, and several told KTVB they think it could be well into next school year before they learn whether the school is, in fact, accredited or not.
School board president, Richard Hammond emailed KTVB the following statement after Wednesday's meeting:
"The preliminary ISAT test results for Spring 2012 of 88.2% proficiency in reading and 77% in math reflect that HCCS has phenomenal teachers, quality leaders and the best students. The large waiting list also reflects that the community is supporting HCCS as a valuable alternative to the traditional public school in Canyon County.
As with all charter schools, accreditation is a process; however, the process for HCCS to receive permanent accreditation may take longer than planned. We are taking every step to ensure that the school receives its permanent accreditation as soon as possible.
We are also excited to announce that Javier Castaneda will be joining HCCS as the new Executive Director for the upcoming year to provide additional leadership and help fulfill the charter. Mr. Castaneda is bilingual with six years of experience as a principal and is coming from a bilingual school. Mr. Castaneda will commence work in July to help with the preparations for the next school year.
HCCS also hired Archie Buck, who has ten years of classical experience as the director of a private classical school. Mr. Buck will be a teacher, the teacher development instructor, and will help with the curriculum. He has a Master of Education with an emphasis in administration and supervision. He is working on obtaining his Idaho administrative credentials to assist in the leadership. Mr. Buck started earlier in May and has been a valuable asset for the school.
The first year has been a positive learning experience where parents, teachers, and leaders have donated time, experience, money and assets to ensure that education expected for our children is available. As a parent with three sons at the school and one daughter to start next year, I am proud of the education that is offered and am excited for the future.
Hammond encourages those who still have questions to go to Thursday's meeting at 9:00 a.m. in the JRW West Conference Room at 700 West State Street in Boise.