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home : schools : schools May 27, 2016

9/2/2013 3:33:00 PM
West Concord charter school opens its doors

By Gretta Becay

There's a new school in town. After five years of effort by a determined group of people, the free public charter school is open in West Concord.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013, School Board President Jeff McCool welcomed the more than 100 people who attended the festivities and toured the new school.

Many of those were students and their parents. Inside the new building at 601 South Street, the students' names were already on their desks in their classrooms and their teachers were ready to meet them.

Shallyn Slack will be teaching kindergarten; Sarah Schaefer will be teaching grades one and two; Amanda Braithwaite will be teaching grades three, four, and five, and Paula Finne will be the temporary special education teacher.

Board members for the school besides McCool and Finne include Donna Klapperich, Kay Hanson, Lisa Westlund, Corkie Buckingham, and Karen Peterson. The maintenance worker is Larry Lehmberg, Elizabeth Olmos is the administrative assistant, and Teresa Knutson is the paraprofessional who will help in all classrooms.

One mother cautioned her daughter to behave while she's in school, "...because I know most of the personnel so I'll know if you're doing anything bad."

It's a small tight-knit community and a group of parents talked about how glad they are that their children will be in school closer to home.

Former state senator Ember Reichgott Junge from New Hope who in 1991, authored the state's first bill allowing charter schools in the state, was one of the speakers.

"It's an exciting day," she said. "The impact on the community will be very long term."

Junge has written a book about the story of the legislation, aptly named Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story.

"Over the past five years, this group faced their own zero chance of passage," she said.

But they never gave up and the school is a reality.

The building is a modular construction and is leased from the West Concord Friends of the Library group, School Director Nicole Musolf explained. She also explained the significance of the school's number.

"We're the West Concord Public Charter School #4214," she said. "The "4" means we're a charter school and the 214 is our district number."

There are 6,000 charter schools the U.S. with 2.3 million students enrolled and one million students with their names on waiting lists to gain admission into those schools, Junge said.

The school's finances and academic achievements will be audited by the group, "Friends of Education," which audits charter schools in Minnesota. Two authorizers from the group, Glory Kibbel and Beth Topoluk, were also at the ribbon cutting.

The school will follow the calendar of the Triton School District which is providing bussing for students if they live more than one mile away from the West Concord school but are within Triton's district boundaries.

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