CAMINO — Inside or outside? Making discoveries or listening to information? Hands on or hands free? If you’ve got a get-down-in-the-dirt, curious, need-to-touch-stuff kind of kid who is fascinated by the physical world, you might consider registering him or her for the Camino Science and Natural Resources Charter School for the 2011-2012 school year.
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The new charter school in the Camino School District has an administrator, a teacher, 51 registered students and a place on the Camino School campus. All they need is the new school year to get under way.
“We’re really excited about the charter school, ” said Erik Bonniksen, principal/superintendent for Camino School District. “The focus of instruction is science and natural resources with standards-based content.”
The school, which will be housed at the Camino School campus on Snows Road in Camino, will use science and natural resources to gain understanding of how the community and the natural surroundings are related. Instead of a 50 minute daily, or twice weekly, period for science, students will have a three- to four-hour block in which to delve more deeply into the science topics.
“Camino is sitting in a wealth of opportunity for natural resources like Sly Park Reservoir,” said Daylin Boyd, Camino vice-principal, music teacher and new principal for the charter school next year. “This has been in the works for a while. Teachers who were passionate about learning, parents and community members who wanted to be part of a natural resource learning environment and a growing population of students who would be suited by this approach drove the process. We have an opportunity to do something special for the kids.”
Parents were a significant part of the development process for the charter school. “We worked hand-in-hand with the community and had monthly advisory meetings with parents who contributed their input,” said Boyd. “The hands-on science, hands-on learning system and the parent volunteer hours were all a part of those meetings.”
“Charter schools allow more flexibility in classrooms and in scheduling,” said Bonniksen. “We still follow the state standards and conduct the STAR assessment, but we can have a hybrid of two days of classes at charter school and homeschool instead of five days of classes and we can have multi-age classrooms.”
Another difference between a charter school and a traditional school is that parents sign a contract to contribute at least 30 hours of volunteer work at the charter school. “We want to create a family/school community to motivate our students,” said Boyd.
Currently two teachers are planned with students in the K-8 grade charter school grouped by grade levels with multiple age levels in each class. The charter school is partnering with the Apple Hill apple growers, the U.S. Forest Service and the state Department of Fish and Game to get students off campus and into the environment for hands-on learning.
“We are in the ideal setting where we are located with all of the natural resources we have available,” said Bonniksen. “We want to make sure that everything is in place when we start, so we’re starting small.” Although the school is planned to open with 60 students in August, Bonniksen said they are not planning to cut off registration. “If we have more registered students, we’ll hire another teacher.”
At a Camino School District board meeting on April 5, Home School Academy instructor Tena Harm was approved to become the Camino Charter School’s first teacher and a fund for the charter school was opened by board approval to receive state funding and pay expenditures. With the school housed at Camino School’s lower campus, charter school students will have access to the school’s facilities and student activities. The home school program already offered by Camino School District will be rolled into the charter school program so home schooled students have an opportunity to attend classes two days a week.
Registration for the Camino Science and Natural Resources Charter School is open for any K-8 student in El Dorado County as school district boundaries do not apply to charter schools. “We can even take students from contiguous counties like Sacramento and Amador,” said Boyd.
The Charter School will be taking registration at the Camino School District Office at 3060 Snows Road, Camino. For more information contact Daylin Boyd at 530-644-2204, ext. 238 or e-mail at [email protected]
E-mail Wendy Schultz at [email protected] or call 530-344-5068.