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Two teachers hope to start charter school

Two Crystal River teachers are hoping that a combination of back-to-basics curriculum and small class sizes will attract enough interest to create Citrus County's first charter school.

The teachers plan an organizational meeting to gauge community interest and support at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Capital City Bank community room at Meadowcrest.

Midge Tindale, who teaches at Crystal River Primary School, and Ginny Owen, who taught there previously, have been researching just what they will need to do to apply for a charter school by the April 15 deadline the School Board set last week.

"I would say that if you would ask any elementary teacher what the No. 1 thing they would do to improve education would be, 99 percent of them would say it would be to lower class size," Tindale said. "The more you can zero in on what that individual child needs, the better."

The teachers hope to focus on first through fifth grades and limit class ratios to one teacher to 15 students. They hope for a school with one class at each grade level and for a school size of about 75 students.

The school would use a curriculum known as the Hirsch Curriculum, which features a basic core of reading, writing and math. Tindale said the school would also be interested in doing innovative projects and is going to put a strong emphasis on parental involvement.

"We want to have a set curriculum with parents involved, and we want parents to be working on those same things at home," she said. Parents will also be welcome to help with the school operation.

"One of the things we also plan to use a lot of is common sense," Tindale said. "That often seems to be in short supply."

Charter schools are new schools run by individuals or organizations or converted public schools that receive state dollars to operate but do not have to follow all of the same regulations as public schools.

Tindale said she and Owen hope that any parents or other interested community members come out to Thursday evening's meeting. The two do not have a site for the school and are also hoping for financial support from the community.

"We don't have much time" to get all the details worked out, with the applications due in about a month, Tindale said.

For information, call Tindale at 382-3073 or Owen at 795-9276.