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LVCS receives additional state rural school funding

PEDEE -- This school year has been good to Luckiamute Valley Charter Schools.

Luckiamute Valley Charter Schools science teacher Daniel Shimek (center) helps seventh-grader Shane Mickelson (right) and eighth-grader Drew Abernathy (left) begin building a rocket on Friday at the school's Pedee campus. LVCS was recently notified that it would be receiving "remote schools funding" for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Luckiamute Valley Charter Schools science teacher Daniel Shimek (center) helps seventh-grader Shane Mickelson (right) and eighth-grader Drew Abernathy (left) begin building a rocket on Friday at the school's Pedee campus. LVCS was recently notified that it would be receiving "remote schools funding" for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

November 05, 2013

PEDEE — This school year has been good to Luckiamute Valley Charter Schools.

In June, LVCS negotiated with Dallas School District to purchase its two school campuses for only $20,000. Then, earlier this month, it learned a review of schools qualifying for the state's "remote school funding" allowed LVCS to receive a significant amount of additional funds for both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Executive Director Dan Austin said he doesn't know the exact amount yet, but estimated the figure could be around $440,000 for the two years, $190,000 for last year and $250,000 for the current year. He said the purpose of the money is to provide small, rural schools, those that don't have the same tax base as those within cities, with more financial support.

Schools can receive the funding if they meet certain criteria, including being located at least eight miles from the nearest similar school. A state review conducted in 2011 revealed the Pedee campus qualified, but just barely.

"We were just within hundreds of feet of not qualifying," said Mike Beasley, LVCS's board chairman. "But we got word from the state that `Yes, you are going to qualify.'"

Beasley said it took more than a year for the state to make the determination, but school officials aren't complaining. Combined with the recent purchase of the schools, the extra funding will allow LVCS to respond to rapid enrollment growth.

"It's very nice," Austin said. "No. 1, it allows us to spend money on infrastructure. In the past, those buildings, we didn't own them. It allows opportunities to expand and look at things a little differently."

He said the LVCS board will begin discussing possible uses for the money at its November meeting and later invite parents and members of the community to provide input.

Beasley said the board is looking into two areas to focus the additional funding: adding more technology in the classroom and facilities expansion.

"We want to integrate tablets (tablet computers) in the classroom," he said, noting the success at other schools using the devices. "It's something the kids really get into."

Facilities expansion will likely involve the Bridgeport campus, where the school could place more modular buildings on the campus or possibly purchase more land.

"At Bridgeport, we have 170 students on a small site, just under two acres," Beasley said. "We are pretty tight right now."

Like Austin, Beasley said owning the two properties will allow for more flexibility in the future. He said the charter school's relationship with the Dallas School District, the school's sponsor and former owner of the properties, has been good. But he noted with an elected board, that scenario could change some day and with the purchase, LVCS has more stability.

"It feels good from the perspective that we have control of our destiny in owning the buildings," Beasley said. "On our list of priorities, it wasn't at the top, but it was up there. When they (the Dallas board members) expressed interest in selling them, we jumped on it."

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