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Plans for new Carson Valley charter school in works

Scott Neuffer
Nevada Appeal News Service

In the wake of Sierra Crest Academy’s charter revocation, which was effective June 30, supporters of the closing school are banding together to form a new charter school in Carson Valley.

Former Sierra Crest board member Renee Sweeney said about 10 parents and at least two teachers from Sierra Crest will meet Tuesday to form a committee and develop a new charter.

“We’re not going to give up,” she said. “We need a charter school here.”

On June 8, the Douglas County School Board voted 4-2 to revoke Sierra Crest’s 6-year charter. Sponsored by the Douglas County School District, the school came under fire for several compliance issues, chief among them a lack of curriculum and inadequate attendance reporting.

Despite the loss, Sweeney said, it’s time to move on.

“This is not Sierra Crest Academy. We are starting completely over with a new charter,” she said. “What we are doing is taking away what we learned from Sierra Crest Academy, the good and the bad, and we are using that information.”

She said Sierra Crest’s charter was originally designed for high-achieving, gifted and talented students, but that the school gradually attracted more at-risk youth.

“It wasn’t a good fit,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure a new program could handle both at-risk students, gifted and talented students, and everyone in between.”

Sweeney said many details have yet to be worked out, including a name for the new school. She said an application for state sponsorship must be submitted by Sept. 1 if the school were to open in the 2011-12 academic year.

Sweeney said the committee, set up like a governing board, needs to include three teachers; the rest of the committee can be made up of parents and community members.

“If comes down to it, if there’s too much to put together and we don’t make the Sept. 1 deadline, then we’ll be shooting for next year,” Sweeney said. “We’re not giving up on the idea.”

Sierra Crest’s charter revocation was difficult for many parents, she said.

“There is a sense of loss at this point,” she said. “A lot of people right now don’t know what to do with their kids.”

The committee’s first meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the former Sierra Crest campus, 1701 Lucerne St., Minden. For more information, contact Sweeney at 781-9490.