Cannon Beach charter school wins board OK

Cannon Beach Academy board members Kellye Dewey, Patti Rouse, Kimm Mount and Barb Knop at a July board meeting.

SEASIDE — The Cannon Beach Academy saw its goal of opening next year move closer Tuesday night when the Seaside School District Board of Directors approved the organization’s charter application without conditions.

Nearly four years after a group of residents initiated an effort to create a charter school in Cannon Beach, the organization reached a significant milestone with the approval of its charter. With that piece resolved, the academy’s board can move forward and begin finalizing financial details, apply for grants, plan for enrollment, prepare the school building and start hiring staff, according to board President Kellye Dewey and board member Barb Knop.

In October 2015, the district’s board approved the charter school’s application with a set of conditions, such as the school would serve at least 44 kindergarten and first-grade students in its first year. In March, the district withdrew conditional approval, stating the academy fell short on funding, enrollment and a state-approved English Language Development program for English language learners.

“The bulk of their application was very well done and thorough, but there were a few things that needed to be addressed,” Superintendent Sheila Roley said.

Roley, her staff, the district’s attorney and the academy’s board members worked during the past six months to address the issues that led to the conditional approval being revoked.

The academy’s board met with the district’s Finance Committee before the regular district meeting Tuesday and presented the strides the organization has made to meet the requirements for a successful application.

For example, the academy decided to use the same English Language Development program as the district, as it already is state-approved. The academy clarified certain aspects of its financial plan, with revenue to be generated primarily through district funding, pledges, fundraising and grants, Knop and Dewey said. Other details of the financial plan will be determined during negotiations over the charter contract, Roley said.

Board member Tom Maltman, who is on the finance committee, said the cohesion between the two groups has solidified during the past few months, allowing the process to move forward efficiently with clear communication.

“They understand where we’re at, we understand where they’re at,” he said.

Fellow committee members Lynn Ulbricht and Patrick Nofield agreed.

The steps accomplished in the process to this point are “a testament to their board and the people in Cannon Beach that are sustaining this after all the obstacles” they’ve encountered, as well as the problem-solving efforts of Roley and her staff, Nofield said.

The board unanimously voted in favor of establishing the charter and giving Roley and her staff the authority to negotiate the contract.

Moving forward, the academy’s board will continue working with the district, with the goal “to have a contract in place by the end of the year,” Knop said. Open enrollment could start by March 1, in preparation for the academy to be operational for the 2017-18 school year. The academy also now can apply for Oregon Department of Education charter school implementation grants that will be available in the spring.

Dewey said she is “extremely excited to move forward with the district” and continue growing “a great relationship.”

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