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Proposed Bloomington Charter School Raises Hopes, Concerns

Green Meadows would focus on sustainability and the arts, but some school officials say it could have a negative financial impact on nearby public schools.

green meadows

Photo: Kyle Stokes

Proponents of the Green Meadows charter school speak to a crowd of parents at the Monroe County Public Library on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

Green Meadows Charter School is awaiting approval from Ball State University to proceed with the planning of the school, which aims to teach children through the arts and focus on sustainability.

The Office of Charter Schools at BSU hosted a public discussion Tuesday at the Monroe County Public Library to share the school’s proposed mission and beliefs as well as hear opinions from the public.

“We will have social justice and environmental sustainability as a big part of our school,” said, Mary Goral, who would be Green Meadows’ director of education if it is approved. “We believe that students need to know how to become stewards of the earth and not in a way that scares them, but in a way that they learn to love the earth. So they need to learn to love the earth first before they are asked to save it. “

Megan Smith, a graduate student at the Indiana University School of Education, shared her desire to eventually work for a school like Green Meadows and explained the benefits of keeping students and teachers better connected for several school years.

“A class would start with one teacher in first grade and stay with the same teacher until third grade. I think that really gives a real since of community,” said Smith. “They get to know their teacher and the teacher really understands the students as individuals.”

Others expressed concerns that the school could pull resources away from other public schools in the Monroe County School Corporation.

A statement from MCCSC Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judith DeMuth, who was not in attendance because of a school board meeting, pointed out how the new school could negatively affect MCCSC students.

MCCSC is slated to receive approximately $5,400 in state funding for each enrolled student, so removing 200 students from the traditional school system would result in a loss of more than $1 million for the corporation.

“My major concerns are the unintended consequences that come with choice,” former MCCSC school board member Valerie Merriam said at the meeting. “They have a lot of wonderful ideas and most of their ideas are incorporated within the MCCSC now at any number of our schools. But anytime you take away over $1 million from the corporation, that will result in the cuts probably 20 teachers or so, you are going to impact programs.”

Ball State University will review the information gathered at the discussion and expects to make a decision by mid-October. Pending approval, Green Meadows plans to open for the 2015-2016 school year.

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