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Chartering a new way

Seventh district school set to open

International Baccalaureate charter school will open in August
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Loomis Basin Charter School is progressing at a gallop this summer to be ready for its August opening. A $600,000 competitive state grant was awarded to the school for start-up expenses and the Loomis Union School District board approved a $1.2 million loan for the building of the campus adjacent to Franklin Elementary School. Charter school director Cindy Uptain is working long days to ensure that all will be completed for the school’s 185 students in grades kindergarten through fourth and their Aug. 20 opening day of school. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Uptain said of creating the new school. “It doesn’t feel like work at all. It’s just a total joy.” Uptain, who lives in Penryn and served as Penryn Elementary School principal for six years, has been involved in the plans for the new campus, the hiring of teachers and the admittance of students. She calls her nine newly hired teachers “dynamos.” Two of the teachers have worked for the district in a temporary capacity and several have International Baccalaureate experience. The school has been well received and is opening with two classes of each grades one through three and two full-day kindergarten classes. They will have one fourth grade class. The charter school currently has 51 students on a waiting list. “I’m just blown away by the response we’ve had,” Uptain said. Uptain is excited about the $600,000 state charter school grant they received that will pay for curriculum related costs, textbooks, teacher training, a playground, library and computer lab. Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent for the district, explained the grant can’t be used for construction expenses, but it does free up district money that can then be used to pay for construction costs. The International Baccalaureate charter school will open in 11 portable buildings that are either surplus from other district campuses or are being leased. Stewart said the majority of the construction costs involve preparing the site and bringing utilities from Laird Road. The district is loaning the construction money to the charter school to be repaid over an eight-year period. Stewart said that 30 percent of the charter school students are already district students, but that 70 percent come from other areas including Roseville, Rocklin and the Eureka school districts. There is even a group carpooling from El Dorado Hills. Stewart said out of district students bring additional revenue to the Loomis district. Uptain said that the first and last day of the charter school year will be different from Franklin’s so as not to cause any parking issues. She also said their school day will run from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., 50 minutes longer than Franklin’s. The school director said a longer school day allows charter students to have a Spanish class, more arts and music and more time for “thinking” and research projects. Paul Johnson, Loomis district superintendent said he is very excited that the district is opening a charter school. “It’s pretty groundbreaking for the district,” he said. “The International Baccalaureate program is well-respected and will be a great opportunity for the community.” Johnson said his goal is to infuse the teaching methodology of the program – higher level thinking and inquiry based education – into all of the district schools.