Parents create charter school to replace closing school - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Parents create charter school to replace closing elementary school

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CALEDONIA (WKOW) -- Parents are searching for an education alternative for their children, as their rural school is set to close at the end of the year.

It's been 3 months since the Portage Community School District announced some big cuts. They're closing two rural elementary schools-- Caledonia and Fort Winnebago, to save $1.2 million, offsetting a budget deficit of $3.6 million.

But some parents are on a mission to save Caledonia Elementary. The rural school is home to just 43 students, so they're thinking a charter school could be the answer.

Angeline Edgar and Elizabeth Arnold spent months researching charter school options, after the school board voted in August to close Caledonia. With help from a community of parents, the two moms are putting together a proposal for a charter school that would replace the elementary school.

The two held a community meeting last week, where more than 50 people showed up in support of a better option.

On Tuesday night, they held another meeting to iron out the details.

The group plans to rent the current building from the district, and keep the same focus on multi-age classrooms and individualized learning that their kids are already getting at Caledonia.

"You know, that's the reason that we moved out here, that's the reason that we live here, you hear that over and over again and we want to stay here," says Edgar, whose child is in 3rd grade at Caledonia.

Their hope is to keep their mission of rural education alive with a state-funded charter school that would be under contract with the Portage district.

"We're really proud of our school and our community," says Arnold, whose child is also in 3rd grade at Caledonia. "We don't want to lose that, and if there's any way we can do something so that we don't have to, we're going to."

The parent group has until next week to submit a draft proposal to the district.

District Administrator Charles Poches tells 27 News that it's too early to say whether the district could sign a contract because officials still need more details. Poches says a charter school could be a possibility, but it would have to be under the right circumstances.

If an agreement can be arranged, the school board would then vote on it in late January, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction would get involved, since charter schools are funded in part by state money.

The group hopes to have the school up and running by the 2013-2014 school year.

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