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Local school districts exploring regional health charter school

Aurora, ProHealth and Medical College of Wisconsin would partner with schools

Dec. 19, 2012

Oconomowoc Area Schools - The Oconomowoc Area School District is collaborating with the Kettle Moraine School to explore the possibility of starting a charter school to serve students in the region.

The focus of the proposed charter would be the health care industry and Aurora Summit, ProHealth Care and the Medical College of Wisconsin have agreed to partner with the districts to provide unique opportunities for students.

Superintendent Dr. Pat Neudecker said she was approached about the possibility last summer by KM Superintendent Pat DeKlotz.

"Through a series of meetings, the possibility of a collaborative partnership with health care providers in our area was also discussed. After much discussion, the group was excited about the possibility of a new model which would enlist the collaboration of two school districts as well as three health care institutions. This is a unique project indeed," Neudecker said.

Organizers from both districts are in the process of doing the work involved to apply to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for a planning grant application to be submitted in April 2013.

If awarded, the planning grant would fund the work of the committee for the 2013-14 school year.

A final charter school application, approved by both district school boards could then be submitted for the creation of the regional health charter school.

 Along with OASD Superintendent Neudecker, OHS Principal Joseph Moylan and Assistant Principal Melissa Anders have represented OASD on the initial design committee.

Anders told the School Board at its meeting Tuesday night that the charter, currently referred to as The Community Health Care and Research Academy, will provide a "distinctive interdisciplinary learning curriculum that prepares students for postsecondary readiness and success."

Anders said that the purpose of a charter school is "to be different; to be innovative."

To that end, the rigorous curriculum will provide seven essential design components. An interdisciplinary learning curriculum will offer instructional design of seminars, workshops, symposiums, courses and conferences.

An emphasis on research and inquiry will allow students to choose a wide range of industry and practice topics of interest.

Mastery learning will include capstone projects in every year, leading to a senior capstone project.

A personal learning plan will be created for every student and a faculty member adviser will be provided for four years.

Adjunct faculty will allow for health care professionals from medical staff to work with high school faculty in building the rigorous curriculum.

In addition, the design components include the acknowledgment that there are many places in the community to learn in and from, and that area health care facilities provide powerful places of learning.

This collaboration will benefit students, families and the communities, Anders explained.

"This is a huge step," Neudecker said, adding that she believes the collaboration between school districts, along with the partnership with the three health care providers, will strengthen the chances of the grant being approved.

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