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Schools

Bullis Charter School reviews future growth options

After years of spiking enrollment requests, Bullis Charter School officials are reviewing options for school expansion.

The school has added a class per grade per year over the past several years, growing from two sections of each grade to three.

The charter school’s board of directors held a study/work session Sept. 24 to discuss solutions for the increasing needs.

“The demand has increased in all grade levels,” said board member Andrea Eyring. “When we first started the school, it was trickier. Now there is enough demand in all the grades.”

The board explored both short- and long-term options for the school’s future.

One option – maintaining the school’s current growth model – would add only additional sixth- and eighth-grade sections.

To address the number of applicants turned away each year, however, board members proposed revising the growth model to accommodate more students.

A second option, a possibility for the short term, would add one section for grades K-3, leading eventually to four sections per grade.

“We have quite a few siblings wait-listed right now,” said board member Janet Medlin. “We could serve families that are already here by having a new K-3 strand starting next year. Those grades could easily be filled by next year.”

An option for scaled-down growth in the short term would add only one kindergarten section beginning next year, and add a class section per year, capping at four sections of each grade.

Board Chairman Ken Moore said adding one kindergarten section next year might not require more facilities space, as it would be the addition of an afternoon class, for which they already have space on campus.

In the longer term, the board discussed several possibilities for growth. Board members said long-range planning might require a more detailed study that could take more than six months.

One long-term vision, dubbed the “Five-Four model,” would offer five sections for grades K-3 and four sections for grades 4-8, which have slightly larger class sizes.

Another proposal was to duplicate the school’s current three-section model, meaning there eventually would be six sections of each grade. Moore said that growth could be implemented in a number of ways.

A transitional model, eventually adding many more sections, would add two sections each in grades K-5 in addition to the current three sections of K-8.

Moving forward, Moore said the board should consider several factors about the proposed growth models: demand, Proposition 39 (facilities allocation), the funding model, class size, maintaining quality, the specialized teacher component and timing.

“There are great pros to expanding the program,” Medlin said. “We need to makes sure we aren’t compromising the product we are delivering now.”

The Nov. 1 deadline looms for the charter school to report to the district its forecast for in-district students for the 2013-2014 school year.

Moore said the board rescheduled its Oct. 1 meeting to Oct. 8 to allow the Proposition 39 Committee (which deals with the facilities request process each year) more time to look at short-term options. He said another study session on the topic should be discussed at the Oct. 8 meeting.

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