Facing possible closure because of flagging enrollment , Verona’s New Century charter school is proposing to become Dane County’s first “green,” or environmentally-focused, charter school.
The move, which must be approved by the district’s board, illustrates the challenges facing charter schools across the state: to find an academic niche that will continually attract students.
“Having a (charter school) choice means a lot to parents,” said Kristina Navarro-Haffner, who has a first-grader at New Century. “We really want to be that option for parents and help the Verona School District bring in more people.”
In the last two years, a few charter schools — public schools given autonomy from their district in exchange for strict accountability — have changed their focus to attract students, said John Gee, executive director of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association. A lack of performance or non-compliance with state requirements to be a charter school led to the dissolution of 15 charter schools prior to this year, he said, leaving a total of 206 in the state and 10 in Dane County.
Verona’s Core Knowledge Charter School continues to have a waiting list.