Simply another educational choice


There is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to serving the families of our community by providing an alternative within public education. It is called PIE (People Involved in Education).

PIE is committed to preparing students to be exemplary citizens with a lifetime love of learning through a three-pronged approach of discipline, teaching expertise, and parental involvement. This organization runs the Sand Ridge Charter School that is located in Sodaville.

They have put a proposal before the Sweet Home School Board to duplicate that school in Sweet Home. “On the surface, the proposal was approved by our school board on May 16, 2005. However, since that time the Sweet Home School Board has changed the conditional approval several times (many times without giving notice to PIE) by putting forward conditions that are unreasonable and unmeetable.

PIE has been operating successfully for 13 years. A charter school is simply a public school that is teacher-parent operated. It is not for everyone; however there is a waiting list of 149 students (from all around the Valley) wanting to be enrolled and we parents would like to have another choice for our children.

The underlying current of the School Boards’ objections seems to be dollars. The reality is that a charter school receives 80 percent of the state funds (not bond, federal or grant money) that the district would receive per student. The school district gets the remaining 20 percent.

These are children that, in all likelihood, would be home schooled or in private school and the district is not receiving and will not receive funds for them. However, if they are in a charter school in Sweet Home, District 55 will get 20 percent of the state funds for each child. This is money that District 55 is not currently getting.

Students enrolled in a local charter school will allow the district to receive this 20 percent per charter school student to be used by the district without their having to put out any money for the charter school students.

Why is that a threat to our school board? In all fairness, since the new conditions have been put on the approval process, there have been four new members elected to the board. Hopefully, these people will give this a new and honest look and give those parents who wish to have another educational choice a chance.

Another way to look at this is that opening the charter school would actually create an additional public school for the students in the district. We keep hearing about the overcrowding in our schools… PIE has a cap of 18 students per class.

Let a few of us put our students in the charter school and then there will be more room for the families that are moving into the new housing developments to be able to put their children in our existing schools. If having another choice is important to you, please let our school board members know!

Mike and Sherrie Ingram

Sweet Home