Banta Elementary School District, which oversees the schools in River Islands, opened its first charter school in 2013 with the River Islands Technology Academy that operates a K-7 program. Officials are now planning a new charter that will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Leslie Pombo, a Banta teacher that was reclassified by the trustees on May 8 to handle the project, will run the new academy.
The first order of business during the trustees’ board meeting on Thursday was deciding if the board wanted to do a traditional school or a charter, and then pick a name.
Pombo presented two possible names to the board: New Generation STEAM Academy at River Islands and the Next Generation STEAM Academy at River Islands.
“We’ve been going back and forth for a month researching names,” Pombo said. “I thought I liked Next Generation. The next generation of our new leaders; it’s real catchy.”
Perry said he thought it was “eye-catching,” and Silva agreed.
“We will be producing students prepared for a global society,” Pombo said. “This cannot be an ordinary school. We need the passion of the teachers and staff, people that believe in children and put children number one and work as a team.”
After a short deliberation, the board decided a charter was the best way to go.
Banta Superintendent Albert Garibaldi told the board the district would control the charter and operate it with a separate budget from Banta Elementary. He said the charter board would set up their own budget, but Banta trustees would have final approval.
He said with a charter they would have flexibility in creating their educational programs.
Pombo said they looked at the pros and cons, and favored going with a charter. “Flexibility is the key,” she said.
“At first I was against it,” trustee Joe Perry said, “but the buzz word is charter.”
Board President Frank Silva said he agreed and emphasized flexibility was the reason they went with the first charter.
Garibaldi said although the first two River Islands schools will be charters, he said future school would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Garibaldi said they would be preparing the students for future employment in such jobs as computer graphics and design.
Preparations for the new school began this year with Pombo occupying two classrooms at the technology academy. She said she has been welcomed by their staff, and that the two schools will have to work together.
“It’s a blend of what we can offer,” she said. “Children and parents now have choices.”
Pombo said she would like to create a team over the next two months and present the Banta trustees with a mini-design plan in October.
Between November and January, she said she will present them the first draft of a comprehensive design plan that will address such matters as staffing, educational programs and financing.
In February 2015, Pombo said she would like to recruit a governing board for the school and establish committees and teams to work on the pre-start up tasks, and finalize their design plans in March.
The board’s goal is to open the school in August 2015.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4225.