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North Star Charter Reaches Agreement With Meridian, Will Stay Open This Year

North Star Charter School in Eagle started classes Thursday morning. As parents dropped off some of the school’s nearly 1,000 students administrators told them the worries that it might have to close in the next few months seem to be over.

North Star has reached an agreement with the Meridian School district.  Two months ago Meridian’s board voted to move toward revoking North Star's charter. If that had happened, the school would have had to close during the school year.

North Star had been struggling financially because of debt from building its school. North Star had an agreement with its creditors but it didn’t satisfy Meridian. Board chair Anne Ritter says the district felt compelled to begin revocation because it had been telling North Star for months the credit agreement had problems.

“This wasn’t any kind of new conversation we were having with them,” Ritter says. “I don’t know if their bond holders all of a sudden woke up and said ‘the Meridian District is serious; we’re going to have to correct these things, or the school’s going to potentially close.'”

Meridian agreed to halt revocation because North Star was able to negotiate a new agreement that fixed the district’s two concerns. It got rid of a clause that would have allowed the creditors to demand all their money any time during the school year. And it pushed North Star’s next big debt payment to the beginning of the next fiscal year. North Star still has to work on long term financial stability but the danger of a midyear closure seems over.

It may take longer however, to get rid of the feelings of acrimony that developed after Meridian said it would revoke the charter. In an appeal to the State Board of Education, North Star’s board accused Meridian of trying to take their students and the state money that comes with them. North Star chair Jim Miller says the relationship had become strained.

Millar now says Meridian was never after North Star’s students; the district was just trying to protect its own kids and North Star’s from the consequences of a mid-year closure.

Both Miller and Ritter say they’ll be able to move past the bad blood and work together. But both also want North Star’s charter taken from under the umbrella of the Meridian School District and transferred to the state.  

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