Dallas Community School middle school students discuss a topic during class last school year. DCS will open a high school program with 12 freshman on Jan. 3.

DALLAS – Dallas Community School, a home-school charter school in Dallas — will add a high school program starting in January.

The Dallas School District and the charter school approved an agreement earlier in November to launch the program after a lengthy negotiation process about the size and other requirements for the program.

This proposal dates back to late last winter, early spring when DCS asked for the opportunity to expand its program to include high school students. The agreement is an extension of the current five-year charter the school has with the district.

“They put through a proposal very quickly. We worked through a number of details with Bill Conlon, the executive director at the time, and his staff. I think they did an incredible job of responding to a variety of questions we had.”

The proposal was reviewed by the district’s attorney over the summer. DCS responded to requested changes from that review this fall, with the final proposal going to a vote on Nov. 8.

Superintendent Andy Bellando said he recommended approval, as long as DCS could meet a number of contingencies, including:

Establishment of a permanent high school facility.

All teaching staff be licensed teachers.

The school establish a system to tracking instructional hours.

Students have access to special education programs.

The school establish a student intervention team

The school gain accreditation

All courses meet Oregon Department of Education requirements for high school credit

The school undergoes an Oregon School Boards Association review within two years of opening.

If those expectations are met, the high school program will begin on Jan. 3 with 12 freshmen students. The agreement allows the number to expand to 25 per class next year.

“I think this has been a lengthy process. There’s been an awful lot of thought and collaboration between Dallas Community School and Dallas School District and our superintendent and his team,” said board chairman Mike Bollman.“I think looking at the contingent upon, I’m certainly comfortable with the recommendation.”

Board member Lu Ann Meyer said she is impressed with the proposal.

“By the time I was done (reading it), I didn’t have any questions,” Meyer said. “It was very thorough. It was well done. I just wish you the best.”

DCS Executive Director Jamie Richardson – the former LaCreole Middle School principal – said he and his staff are excited to start the new program.

“We have an opportunity to do some really cool things with kids through our K-8 program, but also at the high school,” he said. “I have a very creative plan I think we can make work, and we have a staff that is really eager to dig in and see what we can do that is great for kids.”

Richardson said the school is in the process of finding an adequate facility, and should be ready for students on Jan. 3.

The board approved the proposal unanimously.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing for our community,” Richardson said.

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