Charter route may save Glade Park School

Glade Park School supporters worked with School District 51 for more than a year to make the small elementary school a reality.

Now, the 2-year-old school has four months to find a way to survive without district funding or close its doors.

Converting the school to a charter school may be the best way to avoid closure, according to Glade Park students, parents and supportive community members who attended a District 51 Board of Education meeting Tuesday. Making the school a charter institution would provide it with enough state funding based on enrollment to keep Glade Park School open, but the deadline was in October to open a charter school this August.

That’s why Glade Park supporters asked the board Tuesday to waive the deadline and set a new time line for making the school a charter school by the time class begins this fall. The board voted Tuesday to have staff draw up a resolution that does all of the above. The board will vote on the resolution during its May 3 meeting.

Karyn Bechtel, parent of a first-grader at the school and one of the mothers who helped start the school, said during the meeting that the hard work Glade Park residents put into opening the school should show the district how dedicated the same people will be to meeting all of the obligations for drawing up a charter in a shortened time period.

“There hasn’t been a family in this school who has reacted by saying, ‘Where am I going to send my kids now?’ ” Bechtel told the school board.

Instead, parents plan to help with the charter creation, according to Diane Branham, parent of another first-grader at the school. Parents were saddened to hear during a school meeting Thursday that the district would cut Glade Park’s $110,000 operating budget as part of $5 million budget cutting measure. But Branham said parents quickly concluded they would do whatever it takes to keep the school open.

“We all came out with really positive attitudes. Everyone wants to work together to make it successful. We don’t want to shut it down,” she said.

The school projects 27 students will enroll in the fall, up five students from current enrollment. Ten-year-old Jayden Stephens, the school’s lone fourth-grader, asked the school board not to let his school shut down, so he can continue to enjoy activities such as knitting, learning Spanish and going on nature hikes.

“Please help us keep our wonderful little school on the park,” he said.


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