Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Bloomington Classical School Seeks Charter For A Second Time

A Bloomington group leading the charge for a local charter school is sticking to the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

The Seven Oaks Classical School submitted its second application for authorization to the Indiana Charter School Board Monday. The board denied the group’s original request this past fall.

SOCS

Credit: Seven Oaks Classical School Official Website

“We are so excited to begin the process in bringing a classical education in the liberal arts and sciences to the students of Monroe County,” school leaders wrote on Facebook.

School officials say they will likely get a public hearing sometime in April.

The ICSB voted unanimously against granting Seven Oaks’ charter request last October, citing concerns primarily with the group’s business plan, discipline policy, lack of a lunch program and board members’ lack of K-12 experience.

Since the denial during their first go-around in August, school leaders have continued to talk up the school’s mission and bolster their application. Seven Oaks Board Vice President Matt Wolf told Bloomington’s Herald-Times that his staff has focused efforts on filling in the holes ICSB members identified:

Among additions to the new application are two new board members and a new lunch plan program.

Wolf said the current proposal would make Seven Oaks a K-6 school in year one, serving 378 students, and then phase in two more grade levels in the following years.

Ultimately, Wolf said, board members would like Seven Oaks to become a K-12 school, which is what they applied for last time.

Wolf’s colleague and Seven Oaks board president Lindsey Weaver told StateImpact last fall that her group planned to resubmit for authorization.

“We’re obviously disappointed, but not discouraged,” Weaver says. “We would go to the same authorizer because we feel that [the ICSB] wants quality schools, and we want to be associated with a group that feels the same about education as we do.”

The proposed school has divided area residents from the get-go. Both Monroe County superintendents – Judy DeMuth with the Monroe County Community School Corporation and Mike Wilcox of Richland-Bean Blossom Community Schools – have voiced opposition to the school, along with several local parents and teachers.

Most of the concern stems from the school’s model, described on its official website as an academic program focusing on “a rigorous classical education in the liberal arts and sciences” emphasizing America’s founding principals.

The school has received 209 of 300 requested signatures on a change.org petition asking the ICSB to reconsider its decision this time around.

Currently, Bloomington only boasts one charter school – The Project School, a K-8 school that opened in 2009.

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