Forest Charter School nears capacity
It’s been a bumpy ride, but in three years Forest Charter School is near capacity and has almost shed its image as the academic black sheep of Truckee and North Tahoe.
“We seem to have an open line of communication now (with other local schools), we’re being included in things like grants, and there has been a lot of communication with the high school counselors,” said Forest Charter Coordinator Janice Eggers.
Forest Charter School, which serves grades K-12, has seen an influx of high school students in the past year or so, Eggers said, likely as a result of the school’s flexible schedule and variety of curricula.
The personalized learning program combines independent study or in-home education with enrichment and classroom-based supplemental learning.
“We are publicly funded, but we are not tied to any set curriculums; that’s one of our freedoms,” Eggers said. “The [Tahoe Truckee Unified School District] uses the same curriculum for all their students, but since we have personalized programming, parents can choose what is best for their children.”
This flexibility is appealing to local athletes who travel frequently for competitions in sports such as skiing and snowboarding because they can take their work on the road. The method has also proven successful for students with alternative needs or learning styles.
“My daughter is at North Tahoe Middle School, and she’s doing well there, but I pulled my son out when he was in the eighth-grade. He needed more one-on-one and less pressure,” said parent Mary Horn. “He’s not on the same schedule as other people in our neighborhood, so we can’t carpool. It’s a pain in the butt, but we make it work because you’ve got to do what’s best for your kids.”
Local support for such an option has not always been strong. Prior to the opening of Forest Charter, Dr. Pat Gemma, superintendent of Tahoe Truckee Unified until 2003, was opposed to the previous alternative, Prosser Creek Charter School, and the district shut it down in 2003. That decision stranded nearly 350 local students just one week before classes began.
The decision to shut the school was a result of Prosser Creek’s debt ” nearly $4 million according to previous reports by the Sierra Sun, and accusations from Tahoe Truckee Unified that the school practiced “poor financial management.”
Just days after Prosser’s charter was revoked, a group of concerned parents met with representatives from Forest Charter School, a program with a strong track record based in Nevada City. A new charter and new school district ” Twin Ridges Charter School District, made all the difference.
“We started with 60 students, and now we’ve doubled. We’ve only got four spots left,” Eggers said. “And over time, I think our relationship to TTUSD has improved. I think people are being more solution-oriented and are wanting to help students.”