The key economic drivers for the Peoria area today are Caterpillar, the medical community and Peoria NEXT. To sustain the economic opportunities that these three main drivers provide, the quality of education and commitment to educational excellence in the Tri-County Area must match that of any community in the country, if not the world. Toward that goal, at its recent meeting, the CEO Roundtable heard from Dr. Cindy Fischer, retired assistant superintendent of District 150; Glen Barton, retired chair of Caterpillar; and Ken Hinton, superintendent of District 150, about the development of a charter school specializing in math, science and technology.
A charter school is a public school open to any student who applies and must be authorized by the board of the public school district it resides in. The school is free to pursue a customized educational vision and make its own choices about its design. Charter schools administer the same state standardized tests as traditional public schools and are held accountable for the results required by their charter agreements. Charter operators are reviewed by the school board every five years, and if charter public schools do not get the results required by their charters, they are at risk for termination of their charter and/or closure. Charter public schools offer students, parents and teachers high-quality options within the public education system and bring untapped community resources and ideas directly into public schools. A charter school operates under its own non-profit board of directors, which could include parents, teachers and community leaders. They are free to adapt their governance structure based on the needs of the students enrolled.
Following an extensive discussion and presentation, the CEO Roundtable unanimously approved proceeding with development of a Math, Science and Technology Charter School. With this approval, we acknowledge our role and commitment from financial resources, in-kind services, or allowing our staffs to provide teaching to ensure the ultimate success of the Math, Science and Technology Charter School.
On July 7th, Mr. Barton announced the formation of the Peoria Charter School Initiative (PCSI), the not-for-profit organization seeking District 150’s approval to establish the Peoria Math, Science and Technology Charter School (PMST). The PMST is scheduled to open in Fall 2010, initially offering grades five through eight with the intention of adding one grade each year, ultimately serving grades five through 12 with a maximum of 575 students. For more information, visit peoriacharterschools.org.
This is a positive first step toward the CEO Roundtable’s goal of educational excellence, but it is not the only one. Working with the various stakeholders in the education field, we must find other creative and innovative ways to elevate the importance of education in our region. The future of our children and our grandchildren depends on it. iBi