Two new charter schools are on the path to opening in Iowa this fall.
The Iowa Department of Education approved applications for Choice Charter School and Hamburg Charter School last week. The state still needs to sign off on the contracts and has 30 days to do so. If both are approved, it would bring Iowa’s charter school total to four.
These two charters were the only applicants after Iowa passed a law last year that allows charters to apply directly to the state rather than going through a local school board. Gov. Kim Reynolds and other advocates claimed this change would drastically increase the number of charter schools opening in the state.
Choice Charter School is a hybrid-online school that expects to have 300 applicants across Iowa, according to its application.
In its first year, the school plans to prioritize students who are in the 11th and 12th grades and either have or are at risk of dropping out. As time goes on, the school plans to expand to ninth-12 grades. Choice Charter said its focus will always be on students who struggle in the traditional school setting and are at risk of dropping out.
The goal is for each student to have an individual education plan and curriculum that works for them. For example, the classes are offered 24/7 and are often project-based or focused on a particular type of work. Students will also be paired with a mentor to help them with school and other needs they may have. People who don’t have access to the technology will have it provided by the school.
The school is connected to Iowa NET High Academy and Jordahl Academy, which have operated in Iowa for 11 years and five years, respectively. Both are run by Dr. Cynthia Knight, who is also behind Choice Charter School. Those schools also help at-risk students and work with local school districts in different ways to educate them.
The other school is Hamburg Charter School, which will be located in Hamburg in Fremont County. The mission of the school is to increase high school graduation rates in Southwest Iowa, particularly among minority and low-income students.
The Hamburg Charter School is being done in conjunction with the Hamburg Community School District, which only offers K-8 education and covers 133 students.
The charter school will only educate high school-aged children. Hamburg hasn’t had a public high school since it closed in 2011 because of concerns about the cost. The state has rejected other attempts the district has made to bring it back.
According to its application, the Hamburg Charter School will offer education in job skills that will allow students to enter the workforce directly after high school if they choose, or to continue their education. Students will also have the chance to earn a technical certification/diploma and/or an associate degree.
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