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Charters would offer year-round school

TANYA CANINO, Sun News Service

The two proposed charter schools in Squaw Valley will offer a year-round schedule with an emphasis on academics and college preparation.

“Both the schools are complementary, they both follow the Carnegie Model,” said Adrienne Forbes, who hopes to start the kindergarten through 6th-grade Pacific Crest Academy.

Don Rees, the owner of the private school, Squaw Valley Academy, is proposing to open a seventh through 12th-grade charter called Sierra Preparatory School.

It will be separate from Squaw Valley Academy, which will continue its private boarding school program, he said.

The two have applied with the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District to open the charter schools next year. Their charters must be approved by the school board in order to open.

A public hearing on the two charter applications will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, at the TTUSD offices, 11839 Donner Pass Road, Truckee.

Both the Pacific Crest Academy and the Sierra Preparatory School hope to draw from students currently attending either the Tahoe- Truckee Unified School District’s traditional schools or the Prosser Creek Charter School.

Forbes, who operates an environmental education program for the state of Nevada, is the mother of an eighth-grader and a second-grader.

“I’ve been in education for 20 years and I see the value and success in small schools,” she said.

Forbes is forming a nonprofit corporation to operate the school, which will be located in the Squaw Valley Chapel.

Pacific Crest Academy will be a full-day, year-round school and is called a “college preparatory school,” she said. There will be a lot of field science and outdoor science offered at the school.

The full-day session will be offered with the regular state funding and there will not be any fees for enrichment classes, like at some Prosser Creek Charter School locations, Forbes said.

The kindergarten, too, will be a full-day session and teach children to read as soon as possible.

She hopes to open the school with 60 students, with eight or nine students per class.

“I just feel really strongly that we’ll hit our target,” she said.

Sierra Preparatory School is designed to continue the program at Pacific Crest Academy, Rees said. He has not decided, but said Sierra Preparatory will probably be a nonprofit corporation.

He plans to offer the same academic programs that he currently has at Squaw Valley Academy, but at a separate location and contained within the state funds.

“We are not closing Squaw Valley Academy. We expect that some of our existing day students will transfer over to the charter school for financial reasons,” Rees said.

There are 26 day students at Squaw Valley Academy now, paying $10,935 per year. The rest of the students are boarding students, paying $26,280 per year.

He said classes will be held at a different location for Sierra Preparatory School, except the students might be brought onto the Squaw Valley Academy campus for science labs.

“We will do our best to replicate the high level academics at Squaw Valley Academy for our local area students who cannot afford a private college preparatory,” he said.

However, class sizes at Sierra Preparatory will be 13 or 14, instead of Squaw Valley Academy’s eight or nine students. He is evaluating whether Squaw Valley Academy teachers might be asked to teach at Sierra Preparatory School. The classes will be full-day sessions, year-round beginning July 15, 2000, and he expects about 70 to 80 students from the area.

“This would be the fourth school that I have started,” Rees said.

Besides Squaw Valley Academy, he started the Yosemite Institute and the Headlands Institute, which have offered week-long, outdoor environmental education since the 1970s.


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