North County Charter Elementary allowed more students

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – North County Charter Elementary School will be allowed to increase its student population after all, the Indian River County School Board decided.

Enrollment will be allowed to increase by about 100 student stations, but the charter school has no plans to implement the increase overnight, charter school chairman Ken Miller said after the vote. Miller said the school plans to add two classes in the fall, which would bring the school’s population to about 170. With the approval of contract changes, the school will be able to grow to accommodate 232 students.

For about two years, North County Charter Elementary has been trying to get its contract with the school district updated – first to reflect its change of address from when the school moved out of the Fellsmere area, the second to increase the student capacity as its new campus provides more space than the former one.

“I appreciate (the school)’s patience as we move forward with this,” school board member Carol Johnson.

Board member Debbie MacKay asked Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava what the financial ramifications could be if 100 students were to attend to the charter – if the moves would put the rest of the district at risk?

“We don’t know where or what that impact would be,” the superintendent said, though, “There will be.”

MacKay told her fellow board members that she could not support the amendment to North County Charter’s contract, saying that to do so does not support the district’s mission to educate all children.

“This is not in the best interest of our children,” MacKay said.

Member Claudia Jimenez said that while she understood MacKay’s frustration, it’s not good for the district.

“We can’t just fight charters,” Jimenez said, explaining that charter schools are a matter of choice and parents are choosing to send their children there. The district, she said, needs to work harder to make the traditional schools better so parents will choose to send their kids there.

The charter school’s contract was approved 4-1, with MacKay dissenting.

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