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Problems At Caldwell School Could Hurt Some Students

heritage students.jpg

Caldwell’s Heritage Community Charter School has some serious problems. That’s the assessment of the state’s Public Charter School Commission, which oversees the publicly funded, privately run schools. Heritage has been in operation for one school year with students from kindergarten to high school.

Heritage's board of directors got a serious scolding in a public meeting Thursday. Lined up facing the charter commission they heard several times that their school had more problems than any single school the commission has seen.

But commission chair Allen Reed says the students are still getting a pretty good education. Parent Jenny Mattrabers goes further. Her first grader went to Heritage this year. “The best possible education I could have imagined for my daughter," Mattrabers says. "She’s challenged, she’s happy, the teachers are amazing.”

Mattrabers says she’s been hired to teach at Heritage next year and she’ll have two more children there. She says on the parents’ Facebook page most of the comments support the school. But she acknowledges some parents will send their kids to other schools next year.

That’s a problem if they’re high school students. Tamara Baysinger, the charter commission’s director, says one of the many miss-steps of Heritage’s board was not completing the process to get accreditation.

 “At this point there is no way to remedy the accreditation issue for this school year." Baysinger adds, "If other schools don’t want to accept the credits the students will simply have to redo the course work.”

Baysinger says the accreditation problem won’t interfere with graduation of students who stay. But it could create a year’s worth of hassle for students who want to go elsewhere. Heritage’s board declined to comment, but board chair Richard Hammond provided a written statement. You can see his statement below.  

The preliminary ISAT test results for Spring 2012 of 88.2% proficiency in reading and 77% in math reflect that HCCS has phenomenal teachers, quality leaders and the best students and parents. The large waiting list also reflects that the community is supporting HCCS as a valuable alternative to the traditional public school in Canyon County. As with all charter schools, accreditation is a process; however, the process for HCCS to receive accreditation may take longer than planned. We are taking every step to ensure that the school receives its permanent accreditation as soon as possible and expect this to take place in the upcoming year. HCCS also reported that it is operating within the expected budged due to the receipt of the funds this month. We are excited to announce that Javier Castaneda will be joining HCCS as the new Executive Director for the upcoming year to provide additional leadership and help fulfill the charter. Mr. Castaneda is bilingual with six years of experience as a principal and is coming from a bilingual school. Mr. Castaneda will commence work in July to help with the preparations for the next school year. HCCS also hired Archie Buck, who has ten years of classical experience as the director of a private classical school. Mr. Buck will be a teacher, the teacher development instructor, and will help with the curriculum. He has a Master of Education with an emphasis in administration and supervision. He is working on obtaining his Idaho administrative credentials to assist in the leadership. Mr. Buck started earlier in May and has been a valuable asset for the school. The first year has been a positive learning experience where parents, teachers, and leaders have donated time, experience, money and assets to ensure that education expected for our children is available. As a parent with three sons at the school and one daughter to start next year, I am proud of the education that is offered and am excited for the future.