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Needs Assessment

The School Charter Plan:

5. NEEDS ASSESSMENT

5.1. Statement of Need
5.2. School Demographics
5.3. District Relations

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Reference: SVRCS Development and Support (Attachment D)

 

5.1. Statement of Need

Since the closing of the Sugar Valley Area School's secondary facilities, only three single facility K-12 programs still operate in Pennsylvania. The Sugar Valley Rural Charter School will serve a significant purpose in the life and culture of its rural community. It will provide a focal point for young and old to come together and continuity for shared experiences across generations. It will serve as a thread which weaves the community together and emerges as a tapestry for fulfilling the hopes and dreams for a better quality of life. A rural school unleashes the largest and best resource a community has - its young people and their energy. In addition to being a place for learning, the SVRCS will offer students a means to participate in the day to day development and improvement of their community.

It is appropriate and necessary that the Sugar Valley Rural Charter School:

1. Provide proven, sound methods of education resulting in zero dropouts;

2. Provide an educational program that results in high academic accomplishments and 100% post-secondary education continuation;

3. Provide a rural, community-oriented lifelong learning center;

4. Provide parental control of children's education;

5. Provide parents and students an alternative to large, consolidated schools outside their community;

6. Provide close-knit family and school relationships that are lost when children move from school to school;

7. Eliminate extensive student busing which is not educationally productive; and

8. Place in the hands of parents, the means to eliminate juvenile delinquency and student drug and alcohol abuse.

Rural education throughout the United States has long been an object of discussion and debate. While nearly all educators champion small, rural, community-oriented schools as being the ideal educational environment for the majority of students, many administrators view these school as being inherently inefficient. The charter school concept, as it is applied to the SVRCS, will allow the preferred educational environment to be administered in the most efficient manner. The SVRCS will become a model for schools and communities far beyond the borders of the Commonwealth.

 

5.2. School Demographics

The SVRCS will be located in or near Loganton Borough which is a small municipality and part of Keystone Central School District. Situated in southern Clinton County, two townships and a small borough cover 72 square miles and combine to make up the larger Sugar Valley community. While the Pennsylvania State Data Center has classified the three municipalities as 100% rural, Sugar Valley is within 45 minutes driving time of major population centers at State College, Lewisburg and Williamsport. Since 1980, the population of Sugar Valley has increased 5.1% to approximately 2350 residents.

It is anticipated that during the first year of operation, the SVRCS will have an enrollment of 350 K-12 students. Approximately 200 will be elementary students and the remainder will be secondary students. With each year's advancement, elementary students will move into secondary grades so that after four years, enrollment will reach its highest level of 425 students. For the first year of operation, it is expected that the elementary classes will average 20 students, the academic secondary classes will average 15 students, the vo-tech classes will average 15 and the special education students, including gifted students, will number between 15 and 20.

 

5.3. District Relations/Evidence of Support

Early in the fall of 1996, a seven member Core Team was assembled to be responsible for the development of a charter for the SVRCS. Carla McElwain is a member of the KCSD Board of Directors and has been serving as "liaison" between the district and the Core Team. As such, she has attended all weekly meetings of the Core Team, several subcommittee meetings, all monthly meetings of the Sugar Valley Concerned Citizens and, of course, meetings of the KCSD. At least three other KCSD School Directors have attended meetings of the SVCC.

The Superintendent of KCSD was designated contact person for the district. He has attended charter school public meetings and information necessary for the establishment of the charter school has been readily provided by other district personnel. These include Paul LaRocque, Business Manager; Norma Miller, Personnel Secretary; Linda Miller, Curriculum Director; Ann Hendricks, Executive Secretary; and Kelly Hastings, Principal of Sugar Valley Elementary School. Invitations were sent to KCSD Board of Directors inviting them to a special meeting between the Core Team and Tim Daniels of the PA Department of Education.

The school district has embraced the concept of charter schools by applying for, and being awarded, a $15,000 grant from the Commonwealth. Numerous district employees have attended charter school seminars, participated in conferences and visited operating charter schools in other states.

Members of the SVCC and SVRCS Core Team attended KCSD Property Committee meetings to discuss the district's plans for renovations at the existing Sugar Valley School and how those plans could best support the conversion of the school to charter status. The Chairman of the Property Committee arranged for SVCC members to conduct a comprehensive facilities assessment at the existing school which was performed with full support of the district's Facilities Manager, Mr. Chip Laubscher.

The school district Superintendent and the President, Vice President and president-elect of the local teacher's union attended a meeting between SVRCS representatives and teachers who are currently employed at the existing Sugar Valley School. During the meeting, the entire group discussed charter school plans and numerous questions were asked and answered. Follow-up questions from the school's teachers and teaching assistants were documented and submitted to the SVRCS Core Team and written responses were provided to the teachers. Provisions for open dialogue between the SVCC and teachers have been made and a standing offer for scheduled or impromptu meetings between the two groups has been extended by SVRCS representatives.


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