Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Joe is doing in Oregon


Mail Tribune

A group of parents who homeschool their children submitted an application Wednesday to found a public charter school for homeschoolers in the Medford School District.

Logos Charter School organizers said they want the K-12 school to serve as a guidance and resource center for parents of homeschoolers.

“The submission of the proposal started a 15-day clock,” said Rich Miles, Medford schools elementary education director.

The district administration, which governs the 12,000-student district, has 15 days to review the application to determine it is complete according to Medford School Board policy, Miles said.

If the application is complete, the board has 60 days to hold a public hearing on the proposal.

If the School Board agrees to sponsor the charter, the school would debut in the fall with up to 200 pupils, said John VonDoloski, one of the school’s organizers.

Students and their parents would continue to orchestrate their education at home but would be expected to meet weekly with a licensed teacher who would help plan and schedule lessons and monitor students’ progress, VonDoloski said. Each teacher would have a case load of 25 students or less.

“They have access to a credentialed teacher, and it doesn’t cost them anything,” he said.

The curriculum would be based on state standards, and students would be required to take the same state and local academic assessments that other Medford pupils have to take. On-site classes such as music or foreign languages could be made available at the school based on student demand, VonDoloski said.

“The concept is personalized learning,” he said. “The teacher sits down and does an assessment and personalizes the program specifically for the student.”

Students would have a $1,000 voucher each year to use toward their education, VonDoloski said. They could use the money to rent a laptop from the charter school, take a music lesson or enroll community college class, for example.

“It gives parents choices but also structure,” VonDoloski said.

He said he also expects high school students who haven’t thrived in traditional high school settings to seek out the school.

VonDoloski and his brother, Joe, came up with the idea after meeting a family whose children had attended the Visions in Education K-12 School, a charter school in Sacramento, Calif. Joe VonDoloski has worked as a school administrator and teacher in Texas and Michigan, while John VonDoloski has been a substitute teacher. John VonDoloski, a father of seven, and his wife homeschool their three eldest children, ages 7, 6 and 5.

“I work with other families who homeschool,” John VonDoloski said. “We are just trying to offer a school so that homeschoolers have a school where there is accountability and resources are available.”

Logos is modeled after Visions and the Alliance Charter Academy in Oregon City near Portland, which offer similar services. Logos organizers have been in close contact with administrators and teachers at Alliance and plan to visit the campus next week, VonDoloski said.

The brothers and other homeschool families started planning the charter school in September and received a $56,000 Oregon Charter School Planning Grant in December from the Oregon Department of Education.

There are about 1,000 registered homeschoolers in Jackson County, according to the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

Students who graduate from the charter school would earn a regular diploma from the Medford district rather than a GED, as some homeschoolers do.

As a public charter school, the program would be open to all Oregon residents without an inter-district and would be free of charge. Under state charter school law, the school would receive 80 percent of the state’s per-pupil funding amount, with the other 20 percent going to the Medford district. In exchange, the Medford district would provide some administrative services as well as oversight to ensure the school abides by its charter.

Logos would be Medford’s second charter school. Madrone Trail Public Charter School, a Waldorf-style school for grades K-4 that opened in 2007, was the district’s first.

For more information, on the Logos Charter School, call Joe VonDoloski at 989-370-5664.


Arthur Sido said...

Interesting. Is religious education permitted in the charter school or can it be a component of the schooling?

Joe VonDoloski said...

Yes, you could still use religious education, we just could not buy the materials for you.