Weekly Wrap-Up: Group takes ‘Initiative’ to bring charter school to Elgin — plus one more

by Emily McFarlan Miller

I’m trying something new this month, wrapping up all my short stories for The Courier-News in one post at the end of the week so as not to overwhelm anybody’s feed reader. Of course, May is that time of year when all my schools let out and I take off; this past week, to celebrate my first wedding anniversary with my husband Joel in fabulous Las Vegas. I only wrote one short story after Monday night’s Elgin School District U46 Board of Education meeting:

But then, I also wrote this cover story…

ELGIN — At one charter school downstate, students have their own farm plot. They eat some of the produce they grow, even eggs from their own chickens.

At another charter school in Chicago, administrators, teachers, parents and students decided to have single-sex seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms. At that same school, administrators also shifted gears after getting test scores in the middle of the year and reassigned the school’s resources to focus on bringing up science scores for grades four to seven.

“The decisions that can be made at charter schools are nimble,” said former Elgin District U46 teacher Karen Schock. “When something happens, you can make those changes. You work with your staff, your students and your parents. You’re working with that group instead of 20,000, like any decision a school district must make.”

That’s why Schock and several other Elgin residents have started the Elgin Charter School Initiative to research bringing a charter school to the City in the Suburbs.

That was an idea discussed by the Elgin City Council and city staff in February during their first strategic planning discussions. The strategic plan, which is expected to be completed next month, will direct the city over the next five years.

One idea that was thrown out during focus groups as part of those discussions was the creation of an education task force to explore ways the city and District U46 could work more closely together, City Councilwoman Anna Moeller told The Courier-News in March. Another was attracting a charter school to U46.

Moeller said the idea was not yet at “the nonprofit stage” then. It still isn’t, she pointed out.

The Elgin Charter School Initiative was registered March 28 as a not-for-profit corporation with the Illinois Secretary of State. Schock is listed as its agent, according to the Secretary of State website.

But it is not registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, according to Guidestar.org, which gathers and publicizes information about nonprofits.

And Moeller was clear: “This is kind of a private effort amongst a handful of us. It’s not related to the city. It didn’t get any city funding. It’s an independent effort at this point, and it probably will be always.”

For the rest of the story, read Group takes ‘Initiative’ to bring charter school to Elgin (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael R. Schmidt for Sun-Times Media.