Two Verona Area School District charter schools are up for five-year renewals this month.
New Century School, which teaches grades K-5, and Core Knowledge Charter School, which teaches grades K-8, brought forth agreements to the school board Tuesday night that would grant them permission to operate within the school district until 2025.
The board will vote on the renewals at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16. Board members did not bring up any major issues with the content of the contracts during their Monday, Dec. 9, meeting.
The board questioned both NCS and CKCS representatives about their outreach methods and what both of the schools could do to make their student population demographics similar to those of the rest of the district. That’s been an ongoing problem for both schools in their more than 20 years operating here.
While the district has just over one-third of its population as students of color, both NCS and CKCS have a disproportionately larger white population than other schools. NCS and CKCS have 88% and 71% white students, respectively, while other elementary schools in the district are just over half white.
Both sets of school representatives told the board they do some outreach with community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, located in the minority-heavy northeast part of the district, but often rely on word of mouth to promote the schools.
Board member Kristina Navarro-Haffner, a former New Century parent, asked NCS representatives if the timing of when school attendance needs to be decided has an adverse effect on recruiting a more diverse population.
NCS director Ann Princl said yes, timing can be a barrier, but she doesn’t have a solution for it.
“Not every family is thinking about their child starting kindergarten in January and February of the year before,” NCS director Ann Princl said. “Having spent many other years in the neighborhood schools, I recognize the importance of the information that they need to know, because they have to be planning ahead, as well.”
New Century was one of the first charters in the state, opening two years after state legislation authored them, in 1995, and Core Knowledge opened a year later. Each has markedly different teaching styles, but both are public, with limited enrollment.
Both charters, along with the district’s third elementary charter, Verona Area International School, are parent-run and share facilities and classes with neighborhood schools. Each must renew its charter every five years.