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State Renewal of Charter for Prairie Crossing To Be Considered Dec. 18

The Illinois State Charter School Commission is conducting a public meeting on Tuesday, December 18 to consider whether a charter allowing operation of Prairie Crossing Charter School should be renewed.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. The location will be Prairie Crossing Charter School, 1531 Jones Point Road, Grayslake. Parking at the charter school is limited so a bus shuttle will be available, leaving Woodland Intermediate School at 2:15 p.m. and returning after the meeting concludes.
For many years, Woodland District 50’s repeated concerns about the charter school have evolved around equity. The last time the charter school was up for renewal, Woodland objected on the grounds that the charter school does not appropriately serve at-risk students living in the Woodland community.
For instance, using data from the Illinois State Report Card, low-income students at Prairie Crossing represent just 6 percent of the 431-student enrollment while low-income students at Woodland represent 36 percent of 5,615 students. At Woodland, 20.2 percent of the students are English learners while just 7.2 percent at the charter school are English learners.
Other inequities:
• Prairie Crossing Charter School does not provide transportation for students. Woodland buses all students.
• Prairie Crossing Charter School does not provide a hot lunch or breakfast for students. Woodland does.
• Prairie Crossing Charter School operates with its own board of directors, who are not elected by the public, yet control the use of public money from the state of Illinois.
• Prairie Crossing Charter School has the lowest low-income enrollment among charter schools authorized by the state commission.
Woodland Board of Education has objected to the charter since Prairie Crossing Charter School opened, yet decisions by the Illinois State Charter School Commission supersede Woodland’s objections. Since the operation of the charter school began in 1999, the state has diverted more than $44 million from Woodland District 50 to the charter school. Those state dollars are based on the per pupil cost of Woodland. Therefore, approximately $13,000 per student is diverted to Prairie Crossing Charter School when a student attends the charter school, rather than one of the Woodland schools. If Woodland’s per pupil cost increases, state dollars diverted to the charter school increases.