WHY CHANGE THE NAME? The initial proposal was entitled “Little Red Nature Campus” to reflect a connection with an ideal location, the former Little Red School, as well as the district-wide nature campus element of the proposal. Throughout this process, there have been discussions about how the program could exist elsewhere if Little Red is not available. The new name makes that flexibility more clear. The updated name of the proposal is The LAND School, which represents the curricular foci of Liberal Arts, Nature, and Design thinking.
WHY A HIGH SCHOOL? INDE supports the EauZone proposal and adjusts the charter school concept to be a high school with the EauZone program as a feeder. Since the last time the Little Red Nature Campus proposal was before the school board, a group of teachers, facilitated by INDE, proposed the EauZone: a project-based, outdoor-focused innovation zone that will have locations in each of the three ECASD middle schools (the existing innovation zone at Northstar Middle School, The Arctic Zone, will transition to an EauZone as part of that proposal, with the support of Arctic Zone staff). Given this development as well as other considerations described below, INDE's current proposed charter is for grades 9-12 as opposed to 6-8. By changing grade levels, the LAND School will compliment the EauZone and increase the impact on student learning.
This adjustment addresses a number of concerns voiced by members of the ECASD Board of Education and improves the proposal. For example:
More students can participate. There was a concern about how few students LRNC would reach. The EauZone/LAND School combination reaches significantly more students overall and per grade. The LRNC proposal suggested admitting approximately 40 students per grade level. The EauZone will accommodate approximately 81 students per grade level, one class at each of the three middle schools, and would have the flexibility to increase that number if there is sufficient demand. Overall, LRNC as previously proposed would serve about 120 students, while the EauZone and LAND School would serve about 450 students.
More accessibility. There was a concern about the inherent barrier to charter school admissions, and how that self-selecting group can become unrepresentative of the entire school community. The EauZone can admit students based on their election, but also is free to recruit students whose upper elementary teachers, counselors, and administrators think would most benefit from the program. There is more flexibility on how students are placed into an embedded program, potentially giving more families the opportunity to elect the program. Those students will then be familiar with the workings of the LAND school and will be well aware how to apply and whether it would be a good choice for them.
Middle school PBL without extra transportation costs. There was a concern about the extra expense and inconvenience of transporting students to Little Red. The EauZone program can be up and running for students in all neighborhoods without additional transportation costs as students will be reached in their home buildings.
Complete PBL path to graduation. There was a concern about the middle school students re-entering the universal program after three years of project-based learning. The EauZone/LAND School combination creates a potential connected path to graduation, as opposed to an isolated middle school experience.
Additional benefits to the EauZone/LAND School combination:
Students will be able to experience Project-Based Learning (“PBL”) at the middle school level and make an informed choice whether they will thrive in a PBL environment at the high school level. This improves the chances that students who will fit best in the charter environment will enroll.
Given their developmental level, high school students will be more able than middle schoolers to take ownership of their learning and engage in student-directed projects. They will also have greater ability to act as leaders for other district students who use the charter school facility for field trips, summer programming, and the like.
Being a charter school, the high school could still potentially take advantage of an $800,000 grant for start up costs.