A charter school worth supporting?

March 23, 2011 04:00 am

Another charter school in Brookings? We know what some of you are thinking: “It didn’t work the first time, what makes this one any different?”

Plenty of things.

First, the group promoting the Riverside Creative Arts Middle School has received an initial financial boost of $56,000 to study the feasibility of such a school, and it is actively seeking $1 million in federal grants.

Second, the group has no affiliation to the former charter school, Upper Chetco Charter School. It consists entirely of different people with a different focus, new ideas and better credentials.

Third, the school, if approved by the Brookings-Harbor School District, will be centrally located in Brookings or Harbor. The last school was located in an isolated area about five miles up the winding North Bank Chetco River Road.

Fourth, organizers of Riverside are not rushing in high on hopes and low on planning, as their predecessors did. Riverside is allowing one year for planning.

This newspaper supported the formation of Upper Chetco, even encouraged the community and the school district to give it a fighting chance. Alas, school organizers faced many hurdles – declining enrollment, budget cuts and an ambivalent school district – but the biggest one was the inability to convince interested but undecided parents to give it a try. Also, organizers sabotaged their good intentions by trying to be all things to all students. They should have picked a specific education program and stuck with it.

The organizers of Riverside charter school are learning from Upper Chetco’s mistakes. They have a clear vision of what the school is to be, and will model it based on two successful Oregon charter schools. More importantly, they are not relying on a mystery benefactor to help it stay alive.

Again, we find ourselves supporting the formation of a charter school in Brookings – the need for it still exists – but this time things are different. We hope others agree.