Save the community charter school

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2004

As a single working mother of a first-grader at the Juneau Community Charter School, I am very concerned about the Juneau School District's proposed budget cuts that could in effect shut the charter school down.

The charter school already receives approximately 35 percent less funding per student than students at the other Juneau schools. This disparity is offset by intensive involvement from all charter school parents, low administration costs, as well as many fund-raising projects.

In addition, we are the only public elementary school required to pay our own rent. This imposes an additional financial burden on the school.

All the families participate in the classroom as well as perform numerous tasks to keep the school operational. While it can be a lot of work sometimes, I am always happy to do my share, because my child is thriving in this environment.

There is a perception in the community that the charter school is only for affluent, intact families. Not true! I am an example of a single, working mother making it work, and I am not the only one. The charter school is made up of a variety of family types and ethnic backgrounds - one aspect that enriches the environment all the more.

Another myth out there is that it is only an "artsy" school. Also, not true! My son is receiving excellent instruction in all academic areas. He has a particular aptitude for math, and because of the small student/teacher/parent ratio, his teacher is able to tailor all his instruction to suit his abilities.

His individual needs are being met, and it's in large part due to the personal attention he receives. This personal attention would not be possible without the extensive parental and community support.

As a single parent I have been able to make it work by doing my volunteer time over my lunch hour and on weekends or evenings. It's not always easy to fulfill all of the hours needed, but it brings me much joy in being an important part of my son's education.

Hopefully, the school district and the Juneau School Board will take a closer look at this local treasure and not force it to close down. The Juneau Community Charter School is a successful educational program in the community. The community deserves to have it as an educational option.

Kelly Cunningham


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