Charter-school proponents pledge to retool, resubmit proposal

Charter-school proponents pledge to retool, resubmit proposal

CHAMPAIGN — Deferred, yes. Dead, no.

That's the way backers describe the status of the North Champaign Academy Charter School, which was formally rejected by the Unit 4 School District earlier this month. NCA officials say they plan to start the process anew, hoping to refine the plan that failed to win the district's backing after it was submitted on Feb. 26.

"After careful consideration, we have decided not to appeal the school board decision," community activist Craig Walker wrote in an email. "But rather, we hope to retool and reapply for the 2019 school year. As we analyze (Unit 4's) written report, we are cognizant that most of what the district had issues with are correctable."

Unit 4 board President Chris Kloeppel emphasized that the reason NCA's proposal wasn't approved was because it fell short of state law, not "because the board is opposed to charter schools."

The discrepancies between the proposal and state charter-school law were myriad.

Budget lines suggested money would come from grants no longer in existence. The proposed location — at 1400 West Anthony Drive — didn't have the "green space" needed for outdoor recess or physical education classes. The backup location was in a church.

Asked how the district would review a retooled proposal, Kloeppel said Tuesday: "It's one of those things where we'd have to consider a charter school proposal no matter where, who or how it comes from."

NCA steering committee member Nathaniel Banks said the group will discuss what comes next during a meeting Saturday at Jericho Missionary Baptist Church.

In an email, Walker outlined some of NCA's goals in the coming months.

"The plan now is to identify a professional educator whom would be 'Founding Principal,'" he wrote. "I anticipate this person will not be from Champaign, which will allow the education professional to be free from retaliation at the local level."

Walker said NCA leaders hope to have that person picked by "early July."

"Once that happens, we will be off and running preparing the new application for submittal before the end of the year," he wrote.

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