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Charter school within U-46 to host open house

By Seth Hancock
  The Elgin Math and Science Academy (EMSA) will be hosting an open house for prospective students this coming Saturday, Feb. 10.
  EMSA is a charter school set to open in the fall of the 2018-19 school year within School District U-46, and it had its proposal granted by the Illinois State Charter School Commission (ISCSC) in October after the U-46 Board of Education denied the charter application reversing an earlier vote supporting the charter school.
  The Saturday event will take place at the school site, the former Fox River Day School (1600 Dundee Ave., Elgin), and according to EMSA’s website (elginmathandscience.com) it is to allow “interested families” to “stop by to learn more about our school, meet our principal Ms. Lezlie Fuhr, and register your child for Fall 2018.” The open house will include two sessions, a morning session from 10 a.m. through noon and an afternoon session 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  The charter school will have 200 open spots for kindergarten through third grade for the upcoming school year and is accepting applications through April 4, and a public lottery will be held on April 11. EMSA plans to use expeditionary learning which is designed to have a more hands-on curriculum model for science.
  U-46 board member Jeanette Ward said she hopes EMSA “will be the first of many education options for U-46 students” when she spoke during board member updates at the Monday, Jan. 22 board meeting.
  Ward joined fellow board members Phil Costello and Veronica Noland in consistently supporting EMSA throughout its application process.
  For Ward, her support goes beyond just EMSA as she’s supported school choice as a general rule. Her statement at the Jan. 22 meeting came as she was acknowledging National School Choice Week (NSCW).
  According to schoolchoiceweek.com, NSCW is meant to “raise public awareness of the different K-12 education options available to children and families, while spotlighting the benefits of school choice” which include options from homeschooling to charter and private schools among other options. The website stated 1,037 total NSCW events were held in Illinois this year.
  In 2015, Ward suggested U-46 look into providing school choice throughout the district’s schools.
  Some area school districts allow that like School District 200 in Wheaton which under its board policy 7.30 says parents can choose the school best suited for their child “provided space is available” and parents are “responsible for their own transportation.”
  “The best way for students not to be trapped in their zip codes and in poverty is school choice where funding follows the student and parents have more control over where their students go to school and what they are learning,” Ward said.
  Ward added “parents want choice as shown by survey, by survey, by survey across the country” and said “we also see this in U-46” with the opening of EMSA.
  A 2017 GenForward poll of 1,836 millennial adults, ages 18 through 34, showed that 57 percent of respondents support charter schools and 57 percent support voucher programs which would allow money to follow the child opening up private school as an option for more families. The poll also showed the largest support coming from ethnic minorities, black respondents being the top at 65 percent supporting school choice.
  The American Federation for Children has polled over 1,000 Americans each year from 2015 through 2017, and support for school choice has been between 68 and 70 percent each year.
  Gallup polls between 2012 and 2017 have consistently shown Americans have a far greater view of the quality of education from private schools (independent, parochial and church-related), charter schools and homeschooling compared to traditional public schools.
  In U-46, EMSA had to seek approval by the ISCSC after the U-46 board denied EMSA’s contract by a 4-3 vote in June reversing a 6-1 approval of the charter proposal “pending a mutually agreed upon contract” in April.
  Costello, Noland and Ward were joined by board members Traci Ellis and Sue Kerr along with former board member Cody Holt in supporting EMSA in April while Donna Smith was the lone no vote. In June, Ellis and Kerr reversed their votes joining Smith and new board member Melissa Owens in opposing the contract.
  That reversal will cost U-46 as the ISCSC, in its October approval, granted EMSA 100 percent of the Per Capita Tuition Charge funding from the district. EMSA was only seeking 92 percent in its negotiations with the U-46 administration.




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