A Middleburg charter school application will move forward after the Loudoun County School Board on Sept. 10 voted to help dissect the document during the next six months.
The 7-1-1 vote on the action, with Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) dissenting and Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) absent, means the School Board, together with the Middleburg Charter School Committee, will thoroughly review the application.
The board is taking advantage of a new amendment that keeps any charter school application initiated by a public school district from being subject to a state Board of Education review. However, the School Board is still trying to determine how to approach the application.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) made the motion for approval and noted the direction the application can provide.
“This is a great opportunity for us as we project ourselves into the next century to bring all of our schools in whether they be charter, whether they be public and it is just one more element of a choice in education that we will be able to provide to the children and families of Loudoun County,” Morse said. “I am very excited to have this opportunity to get over into that unique status of a charter school. The whole idea of providing options to our children is something that I am completely in favor of and I look forward to working with the Middleburg community up to snub.”
The Middleburg Charter School Committee proposed the charter school idea Aug. 13.
During the past few years, the 100-year-old Middleburg Elementary School has sustained dwindling enrollment; this year, the school has just 44 students enrolled despite a capacity of 137 students.
“We at Middleburg realize how high the stakes are,” Teri Domanski, parent and Middleburg Charter School application committee member said in August. “But Middleburg has always been committed to keep our school open and viable.”
This isn't the first time a charter school application has come before the board. An application for Loudoun Math and IT Academy, a math and science specific charter school, was denied by the School Board in February.
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) explained that the Middleburg application is a unique scenario.
“This is an unusual situation because we are talking about converting a school currently under the operation of the school system into a charter school. Not an application from the outside coming in to establish a new charter school,” Hornberger said. “I think that special relationship is one that warrants our initiation of the process and thankfully the state has now given us that tool in our toolbox to do that rather than forcing parents who are interested in doing that to one of our smaller schools, in this case Middleburg, down to Richmond to have their application vetted.”
Middleburg Charter School has been proposed with a modified year-round, quarter-based system.
Also proposed in the application are interdisciplinary learning, integrated after care, full day kindergarten, multi-age classes and specialized teachers.
As a charter, the school would be open to all Loudoun elementary school students via an application process. Current Middleburg students would be grandfathered into the new school if they chose.
Staff Writer Alanna Dvorak contributed to this report.
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