|Frequently Asked Questions
What’s new with the charter school?
There are several significant differences between the “old” Reedsport Junior/Senior High School and the “new” Reedsport Community Charter School. Central to the new RCCS is our connection to the community. As a charter school, we are allowed to invite community members into our school to teach electives in subject areas that our regular certified staff members are not able to offer. These registered teachers go through full background checks and are fully qualified in their subject matter. While these community connections have exponentially expanded the number of course offerings that are now available to our students, it's important to note that 100% of our core courses are taught by highly qualified, certified staff members as governed by the laws of the state of Oregon.
In addition, we have been working with our neighboring school districts and Southwestern Community College to increase student options. Some of the new courses have included Medical Terminology, Athletic Training, Personal Fitness, Anthropology, Culinary Experiences, Personal Communication, and Child Development & Child Care, to name a few. Our instructional staff has also worked to increase course options, including college level writing and math, Commercial Art, Controversial Science Topics, Environmental Science, and Science Investigations 101.
Another new component of Reedsport Community Charter School is the Braves Session. The innovative Braves Session allows students to immerse themselves in one or two new electives for ten to twelve days between semesters. All regular classes stop during this period of time and every student chooses from a wide range of completely new, project-based classes. Just a few of the many unique 2011 Braves Session classes included Artistic Ceramics, Design-Your-Own T-Shirt, History of Sports, Geocaching, History of Rock & Roll, Marimba & Zimbabwean Culture, Outdoor Education, Rocketry, and Film Animation. In addition, we have classes in graduation literacy, math skills reinforcement, and some credit recovery options. Students who really need extra help in these academic areas are automatically assigned to these classes, but they still have an opportunity to take another class of their choosing. Attendance is mandatory: students are expected to attend each and every day, and high school students receive a half-credit for an all-day class and two quarter credits if taking morning and afternoon classes. All classes are graded pass/fail and are posted on student transcripts.
The focus of our initial charter grant was threefold: capitalizing on our community connections, creating a personal education plan (PEP) for each student, and investing in new technology and teacher training. As we move beyond the initial grant phase, our emphasis continues to be on deepening our connection to the community, particularly on the registered teachers and community experts who are working to greatly expand the electives available to our students. In addition, we are continuing to refine the system of developing a PEP for each student that will accompany that student from grades 7 through 12 and beyond graduation.
Yes, as a charter school we have open enrollment, so students from the surrounding area are welcome to attend Reedsport Community Charter School. We also welcome home-schooled students to tailor a program that’s suited for them using our classroom or online instruction options.
The money granted by the federal government through the state of Oregon was intended to bring in innovative ideas and changes for new charter schools. The money was carefully budgeted along areas outlined in the grant, with the money allocated over a three-year period. The grant money was used to buy 21st-century technology for the classrooms, including new computers and interactive whiteboards for each classroom. Much of the grant money was also invested in training teachers in best teaching practices and assessment methods. It was also used for things like field trips and classroom curriculum. The charter school is audited annually by the state, and all expenditures were approved by the charter board of directors.
The answer lies in the different funding sources. Our day-to-day operations and staff salaries are paid for with funds received from the state of Oregon. The amount we receive is based on a state formula that involves things such as student enrollment, students with special needs, and transportation costs, to name a few things. We also receive some money from the federal government, and this money is closely tied to programs at the elementary school. The money we received from the federal government to start up the charter school could be used for technology, training, and curriculum, but unfortunately it could not be used to help pay salaries of teachers. It also could not help pay for the school days that had to be cut to balance our budget.
Every charter school has to determine its governance structure. The Reedsport Community Charter Board is comprised of the school director (principal), two students, two teachers, three community members, and one current District School Board member. This group meets monthly to work on business related to just our charter school, not the elementary school.
Representatives from this group, generally the school director, the charter board chairperson, and of course, the District Board member, attend the District Board meetings to share and communicate the business and activities of the charter school. We have also had a couple of meetings where both boards were in attendance to work on business that needed to be discussed by directors on both boards. The Reedsport School District is our “sponsor,” so we share information about the charter school and follow all the current district policies that are already in place.
We will be the first to admit that our test results need improvement. While test scores cannot be turned around immediately, we strongly believe that we have taken rigorous steps to improve our students’ skills, and we expect to see a corresponding improvement in their test scores as well.
We are providing help and extra tutoring at all grade levels for students who need extra time to master essential skills in the areas of math, reading, writing, and science. During the 2010-2011 school year we added junior high classes we call Math/Literacy Labs. These classes are in addition to our regular Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Language Arts classes that students are already taking. Class sizes are kept small and students are given much more individual attention and help in the areas they need to master. We also have a junior high science class, Investigations 101, which reinforces essential science skills. In addition, we offer a study hall for those who need it, often providing high school peer tutors along with the teaching staff.
At the high school level, we have arranged a study hall for students who need it; others are given the opportunity to attend our alternative school classroom for a class period or two to get caught up on assignments or to work on retrieving some credit for a class they have previously failed. Once again, we keep class sizes small so we can provide more help and instruction to students. All study halls are monitored by our teaching staff with assistance by our instructional aides when possible. An after-school study hall is also an option if the student is motivated to attend and work. We also offer credit recovery classes during our Braves Session that focus on Math and English skills. During the 2011 Braves Session, 84 school students took these classes, either to reinforce basic skills or earn credit.
As one of our student board directors put it when speaking to his peers at a class meeting, “Think of it as an umbrella, with Reedsport Community Charter School covering both RHS and the Junior High. We’re still RHS and Reedsport Junior High, but together we are one school—Reedsport Community Charter School.”
One very beneficial change is that junior high students have the option to take high school math classes if their math skills are high enough, so they can earn high school credit for Algebra and Geometry as junior high students. In addition, our peer-tutoring study skills class allows high school students to tutor junior high students. The high school students are assigned small groups of junior high students whom they tutor, and they also help the younger students complete their assignments. This is an effective way to help our younger students be successful as well as benefiting our high school students in their communication and academic skills.
Yes, we have two student charter directors who attend board meetings, work on committees, and work on charter business around their busy schedules. Our student directors also give monthly board reports and help the charter board focus on student needs. Their input is highly valued by the charter board, as they provide information and insights from the student perspective. Our student directors have conducted class assemblies to answer questions from students concerning the charter school. In addition, they continue to gather data from students to help determine which courses students would like to see offered, and they help our charter board determine which courses we will put into our schedule.
A personal education plan (PEP) is an ongoing plan that students begin to create in the 7th grade. In weekly class sessions with an advisor and a small group of those advisor’s students, each student begins to create a personalized education plan. Through ongoing assessments and consultation with advisors, students will map out their high school schedules and plan for post-graduate vocational or college training. Students will graduate with an electronic résumé and the skills they will need to pursue their post-high school careers.
One important tool that we use for creating a PEP for each student is Oregon Career Information System (CIS). This is a web-based resource that incorporates career exploration activities, self-assessments, career-related learning activities, and self-reflection. It also helps students set up electronic portfolios that they can access from anywhere with Internet access.
Charter schools are innovative public schools that are accountable for student results. They are designed to deliver programs tailored to educational excellence and the needs of the communities they serve.
As is stated on the OSAA (Oregon School Activities Association) eligibility request form: “If the charter school the student is attending is a member of the OSAA, the student may represent that charter school only; the student is not eligible to represent his or her resident public school.” The basis for this statement comes from OSAA Rule 8.5, which reads, “A student attending an Oregon charter school that is a full member of the Association may participate on teams representing the full member charter school only.” As our school is a full member of the OSAA, any students that attend Reedsport Community Charter School will only be allowed to participate in co-curricular activities at Reedsport Community Charter School.
As is defined in both the student handbook and Reedsport School Board Policy IGDJ, students who participate in extracurricular athletics and activities must abide by the OSAA Code of Conduct. Among other things, some of what this Code of Conduct includes:
Our official name is Reedsport Community Charter School, but we still have the two components of our school, Reedsport Junior High and Reedsport High School. RHS remains on our new bleachers as well as all other high school sports uniforms.
Community members and parents are essential to the success of Reedsport Community Charter School. If you have a skill to offer or time to volunteer, please contact the school office or members of the charter board.
No, as of now we’re still the Braves and proudly wear our school colors of black and red.
Yes, we are required to follow all the state guidelines for graduation and diplomas.