Chesterton Tribune

Discovery Charter School to open with about 300 students

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By VICKI URBANIK

The new Discovery Charter School in Porter is set to open with a higher than expected enrollment, about 300 students in grades kindergarten through six, with 110 more on the waiting list.

The charter school recently held a lottery, as proposed in the event that applications exceeded capacity. As it turned out, a lottery was needed for every grade level, said Discovery Charter School Board President Laurie Metz.

Discovery originally projected an enrollment of 276 for its grades kindergarten through six.

Not including the kindergarten students, Metz said that just under half of the charter school students are transferring from the Duneland Schools. Just over 10 percent of all students are students who had been homeschooled, and about 15 percent are transferring from private schools, she said.

Discovery Charter School is open to any Indiana student, though students must provide their own transportation. Those who are not transferring from the Duneland Schools come from a wide geographic range, including Westville, Rolling Prairie, Merrillville, Hobart, and various Montessori schools in the region. In some cases, there are pockets of families, such as a group from Hobart, who will carpool together.

Metz said the school had prepared a marketing plan to fill any vacant slots, but given the number of applicants, that plan didnít need to be used after all.

The waiting list is the longest for kindergarten, with 33 students who didnít get picked in the lottery. The waiting list for the other grades range from nine in second and fourth grades to 18 in third grade.

Discovery, which is operating under a charter granted by Ball State University, received approval last year to open Dunelandís first charter school with a focus on environmental and place-based learning. In Indiana, charters schools are public schools that receive the same per-pupil state funding as the local public school, in this case, Duneland.

Unlike the public schools, charter schools do not get additional funding through property taxes for such funds as transportation and capital projects.

Discovery has hired its principal, Laurie Poplawski, a Michigan City resident who most recently was principal of the Gary Lighthouse Charter School, which is also a Ball State-authorized charter school. Metz said Poplawski stood out for the Discovery Board in part because of her experience in starting a charter school.

The charter school will be located in the former Canonie building on Tremont Road. Interior renovations have begun, and the work is proceeding on schedule. The school is also in the process of hiring teachers. Metz said 14 teachers will be hired, along with two others who will teach music and art. Also to be hired are two team leaders, aides and clerical workers.

The charter school board is now in the process of finalizing the details with the school uniform policy, menus and other matters for the upcoming school year.

ďEverything is going forward as planned,Ē Metz said.

Discovery Charter School will hold an event June 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Coffee Creek Pavilion, where families can meet each other and the staff. The schoolís website is at www.dunesdiscoverycharter.org

 

Posted 5/19/2010