Osakis charter school closing“An orderly winding down” of the Osakis Lakes Area Charter School (LACS) was approved on a 4-0 vote at a special meeting of the LACS School Board on Tuesday, October 30, according to Phil Grant, LACS director.
By: Roberta Olson, Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
“An orderly winding down” of the Osakis Lakes Area Charter School (LACS) was approved on a 4-0 vote at a special meeting of the LACS School Board on Tuesday, October 30, according to Phil Grant, LACS director.
School board members are Majel Freeman, chair, a teacher at the school since it opened; Christine Engebretson, Alexandria; Carrie Jenson, a parent from Starbuck; and Jonathan Larson, Sartell, social studies teacher.
Last week, Grant and business manager Alicia Franzen detailed the demise of the charter school, which opened in Osakis in 1999. They also explained how the winding down and closing of the doors will take place over the next few months.
The school will remain open until the end of this semester, which is January 17, 2013.
LACS went to a four-day schedule this fall, when the state of Minnesota required a minimum of 1,020 hours, and not a minimum number of days. “This was a major contributing factor that was out of our control,” Grant said. The numbers simply stayed low this fall.
“We started low and never got enrollment up. A lot of kids transferred out before school started, and we never got the influx of students like we usually do,” Franzen added.
As of last week, enrollment stood at 21 students.
“The board wanted to make sure we were financially responsible. If we had to end it, that we ended responsibly,” Grant said. “The board did not think it advisable to continue with so few students.” State and federal financial aids are based upon enrollment.
The closing “has nothing to do with school performance. It’s a financial issue as a direct result of declining enrollment,” Grant said.
LACS will close with no debt.
Since its opening in 1999, hundreds of students have been enrolled at Lakes Area Charter School, and hundreds have earned their high school diplomas and moved on into the world to become responsible, employed citizens. Average graduation rate was about 20 per year, some years in the high 20s.
HELPING CURRENT STUDENTS
Grant emphasized, “We will try to do the best we can for our students and make sure we can meet their needs. We are working to figure out what we can do for each of them.”
“Some of the seniors are very close to graduation. Some kids are staying into the evening to get stuff finished,” Grant said, assuring that the seniors will graduate. In addition, underclassmen will be helped with other educational opportunities.
Underclassmen have several options, Grant said, including online classes, an Area Learning Center, or a traditional district. “We will help every student with the transition,” he said.
Franzen concurred. “No matter what, we are going to work with every student for placement.”
It appears that LACS’ newly opened Lakes Area Virtual Academy will continue through May. In addition, LACS students in PSEO (post-secondary enrollment option) will also be able to continue through May.