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Parents, educator seek formation, grants for area charter school

March 27, 2013 - A group of area parents, along with a preschool owner, are exploring the creation of a charter school in the Ortonville area.

A founders board has been established comprised of parents from the Ortonville Montessori, 258 S. Ortonville Road, to form the North Oakland Charter Academy.

A location for the future school is yet to be determined; however, several possibilies are under consideration. Funding for the project is available through a series of grants.

According to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, charter schools are non-traditional public schools with no physical boundaries assigned to a map and cap enrollment per terms in the school charter. They are eligible for the same source of funding traditional public school districts have; however, they are under contract (or charter) with an approved authorizer, typically a college or university. Other features of charter schools include a volunteer board of directors and teachers who must meet the same standards set for them by the State of Michigan.

"The parents want to see the same amount of care and level of education they are getting for their children at Montessori when they get to first grade," said Jeff Maxon, parent of a Montessori student and board member.

"We are not aganist the area public schools; rather, they may not be right for all students. We will provide a viable alternative with a charter school."

The Ortonville Montessori, open for preschool and kindergarten students, has been in the community for about 30 years under the direction of Mary Wilcox. There are about 80 students who attend the school.

"Every year we have parents who want their children to continue at Montessori rather than the public schools," he said. "Geographically, there are few educational alternatives for parents within 15 miles of Ortonville."

Area charter schools include: Grand Blanc Academy, Grand Blanc; Holly Academy, Holly; Woodland Park Academy, Grand Blanc; Academy of Waterford, Waterford; Madison Academy, Burton; Chatfield School, Lapeer; Burton Glen Academy, Burton; and Waton Charter Academy, Pontiac.

"Our goal is to have a charter school up and going for Kindergarten through fifth grade by the fall of 2014," he said. "A key element in charter schools are parents who get involved with the education process of the children. The charter schools are unique in that they are under a great deal of scrunity to succeed. If they don't, the charter is removed. It's that simple."

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