Charter school goes forward despite opposition

Dave Cook called the Carson High School administration's opposition to his proposed charter school an attempt to hold students hostage.

"I didn't know the needs of the high school are above the needs of the students - that's an interesting concept," he said. "What they're advocating is not giving students options. They're holding them hostage and that's not correct."

Despite opposition from both the high school and the Western Nevada Community College, organizers are determined to go forward with plans to create a charter school that would combine the two.

"We believe it is the right project," said Cook, founder of the proposed charter school and a former school board member. "I have the charter school proposal that was always meant to be. We're one of the neatest projects going."

The proposed school, Western Nevada Academy, would be open to area juniors and seniors with a C-plus average. The students would attend WNCC, earning their high school diplomas and their associate degrees simultaneously.

However, Carson High School Principal Glen Adair said there is no need for the charter school when students can already take college classes and receive dual credit.

"We have somebody here who wants to do exactly what we're already doing," Adair told the school board Tuesday. "We're not in favor of this."

Students in the program now have their books paid for and are offered tuition at a reduced rate. At the proposed charter, students would not have to pay for classes and books, instead fees would be paid through the school which would receive taxpayer money.

"Is this a good idea for a few kids? Yes," Adair said. "Give me the money and I'll administer the program for free."

The charter school would receive the $4,380 from the state for every student in the school. Cook said the school would shoot for at least 200 students the first year, totaling up to about $876,000 - money that Carson High School would not get and Adair said it cannot afford to lose.

Helaine Jesse, vice president of institutional advancement for the college, also spoke out against the proposed school during the board meeting, saying that Cook did not approach the college's president Carol Lucey first.

"Considering that this charter school will be taught by WNCC teachers and on WNCC soil, they should have come first to Dr. Lucey," she said.

She said the proposed school had no clear mission or desired outcome or means to measure the outcome.

The proposal is being considered by the State Department of Education and if it meets compliance, it will go before the Carson City School Board for approval. Organizers are also seeking approval in Douglas County.

"People will have to search their souls over what's really good for the community," Cook said. "When they do that, how can they not support it."

Other members of the proposed school's governing board are David Noonan, Nancy Hall, Gary Pierson and Robinette Bacon. The chief administrative officer would be Jerry Barbee.


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