Local charter school experiences success

By: Leah Rosasco, Loomis News Correspondent
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What: International
Baccalaureate, K-8 charter school
Student population: 408
Student/teacher ratio: K-3 is 1 to 20, 4-8 is 1 to 25
Address: 5438 Laird Road
Information: 652-2642

Despite the failure of several Horizon Charter schools, the wait list for a local charter school continues to grow.
Since last October, Horizon Charter School campuses in Rocklin and Lincoln have been closed due to facility lease issues and declining enrollment, while the Loomis Basin Charter School continues to turn away students due to a lack of space.
The Loomis charter school’s Director Erika Sloane said there are approximately 400 names on the wait list. Sloane believes the school’s status as a charter school and the fact that it offers the International Baccalaureate program – a curriculum that focuses on developing students’ critical thinking skills – makes it more desirable.
“It’s important for parents and families to have a choice in their kids’ education and I think that’s what draws people to our school,” Sloane said. “It’s an opportunity to have a say in how their child learns.”
The Loomis Basin Charter School opened in 2008 next to Franklin Elementary School and offers a primary years program that focuses on developing kindergarten through fifth-grade students as “inquirers” and a middle years program that teaches sixth through eighth-grade students to develop as critical thinkers.
“The International Baccalaureate program is globally recognized for its quality and values,” Sloane said. “It’s a time-tested method that teachers love to teach.”
Unlike “independent” charter schools, the Loomis Basin Charter School is a dependent charter school that falls under the umbrella of the Loomis Union School District. Aside from the flexibility in the areas of curriculum, budgetary items, and accepting students from outside the home district, the charter school operates and brings funds to the district just like any other school, said Loomis District Superintendent Gordon Medd.  
“The District’s role in supporting the school is the same as every other school,” Medd said. “I don’t view the charter school any differently.”
With the district’s overall Academic Performance Index (API) scores jumping from 895 to 906 last year, Medd said he is happy with the performance of all the district schools. “We have very successful schools in our district, including the Loomis Basin Charter School,” Medd said.
In addition to the 400-person wait list, the school’s popularity is also evident in the dedication of the parents. They are required to volunteer a minimum of 30 hours per school year for one child and another 10 hours per year for each additional child. For parents like Sasha Macktinger, whose four children attend the school, it means volunteering 60 hours per year, and driving her children from their home in Roseville to Loomis.
“It is totally worth it for us,” Macktinger said.
Macktinger cites the International Baccalaureate program as the prime reason her family chose Loomis Basin Charter School, although she also named the flexibility that comes with a charter school, the Spanish language program, smaller classroom size and the supportive environment as important aspects.
“When I drop my kids off at school I know they are being cared for and treated with love and respect,” Macktinger said. “Obviously, as a parent that is really important to me.”  
Nicole Van Stralen, whose first-grade son attends Loomis Basin Charter School, was attracted to the school purely for the International Baccalaureate program. Van Stralen, who teaches first grade at H. Clarke Powers School, said the curriculum involves kids in learning in a way that helps them become lifelong learners.
“It helps them to develop ways of finding solutions as adults and because they will be our future problem-solvers I think it’s incredibly important,” Van Stralen said.
With the plan for H. Clarke Powers School to become an International Baccalaureate school, Van Stralen said she would be happy to send her children to either school as long as they had the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
“I’m not as concerned with the charter aspect as I am with that curriculum,” Van Stralen said. “I just really embrace the way that program teaches kids to think.”