The Board held a public hearing Wednesday, at which Connect Community Charter School issued a presentation demonstrating their vision of a .
The proposed K-8 school, which hopes to open in Fall 2013, focuses on teaching based in neuroscience and social emotional learning while implementing block schedules in order for teachers to engage with students for a longer period of time.
“So often we find educational research takes a very long time to get into the classroom,” said Diane Friedlander, a founding board member of Connect. “We want to figure out how to best translate that research into practice.”
Leaders of the proposed 300-student charter issued a 118-page petition to the board of education in June. The petition took approximately 18 months to develop.
“I think you’ve really gone above and beyond what any petitioner would do,” said board member Alisa MacAvoy.
The presentation emphasized the desire to have children utilize critical thinking skills and learn while “making and doing.” Representatives also stressed the want to see the diversity of Redwood City represented in the school’s student population.
“If you approve this petition I think you’ll be setting a new standard, a gold standard for the Redwood City School District,” said Paul Minney, attorney at Middleton, Young & Minney, LLP.
Minney assured the board that the petition set forth exceeds any and all legal requirements.
An independent reviewer is currently assessing the financial feasibility of Connect, said board member Hilary Paulson
Several supporters of the charter school donned green shirts reading, “Together we are developing minds for the 21st Century.” Many stepped forward to express their enthusiasm for the proposed school.
“We’re been continually impressed with their passion, leadership and commitment to the community of Redwood City,” said Kristen MacCaw of the California Charter School Association.
The school would work with a model of shared governance, said Connect Board Member Kathryn Hopkins, with an advisory board and board of directors working together to lead the school.
“Our team believes success begins with great leaders,” Hopkins said.
The goal of the school is to begin hiring staff and faculty in 2013.
Board members expressed their appreciation for the well-researched and organized proposal. However, board member Shelly Masur encouraged Connect supporters stay for the discussion on the dismal outlook of the district budget in order to understand the serious budget stress the district is now under.
“If we do this,” she said. “We want it to be successful.”
MacAvoy added that the goals of the school are admirable, but there was still concern pertaining to its possible negative affects on the district.
“It really is a separate run organization,” MacAvoy said. “There’s a lot to think about in terms of making sure our kids get what they need in our district.”
The board will now give any further questions concerning Connect to Superintendent Jan Christensen who will discuss those concerns with the representatives from Connect Charter in a July 9 meeting.
A final vote regarding the establishment of the school will take place August 8.
“We, together, can change the face of public education,” Hopkins said.