Cannon Beach charter school gets a boost

Cannon Beach Academy board members Patti Rouse, Barb Knop, Sally Steidel, Phil Simmons and Kellye Dewey with Jeneé Pearce-Mushen, Yohali and Alondra, at a November potluck in Cannon Beach.

The Cannon Beach Academy received good news. The charter school, set to open its doors in September, received a recommendation for a $100,000 award through the Oregon Charter School Program.

Funds will be allocated to curriculum costs, teacher training, classroom equipment and marketing costs, Phil Simmons, director of startup operations for the academy, said Tuesday, March 7.

“The planning grant is administered by the Oregon Department of Education and the funds came from the federal government,” Simmons said. “The purpose is to help defer the startup costs for charter schools. We applied for the maximum grant amount of $100,000, and they awarded the grant.”

The Seaside School District participated in the grant process by verifying that the academy had been granted a charter to operate in the district and supported their receiving the grant to provide startup funds, Superintendent Sheila Roley said.

“The members of the Cannon Beach Academy board have worked very hard to make this a reality and we were happy that they received some resources to help them in the process,” Roley said.

The state was awarded $8.7 million for charter school planning, implementation and dissemination grants in October 2015, charter school grant specialist Jennifer Donovan said. “We will award up to 15, $100,000 planning grants over the three-year term of our federal charter schools program grant,” Donovan said.

So far, four planning grants have been awarded, she added.

Simmons said the grant application detailed the school’s five-year planning efforts, provided budget details and indicated where funds would be allocated. All costs in the application were approved.

“It’s just a matter of us executing the plan and getting reimbursed,” Simmons said. “They were quite impressed with our grant, so much so they’re making our application a model for future applications.”

The largest portion of the grant funds are slated to be used for training educators in the school’s curriculum. Another $10,000 will go to three months of salaries for the director and English as a Second Language teacher. “This will really allow those two individuals to really iron out any issues with our program and prepare our program for implementation,” Simmons said.

As much as $30,000 will go to classroom equipment and curriculum expenses.

The academy applied for the grant with the assistance of the Seaside School District, a cooperation “which is not always common,” Simmons said. “Oftentimes there can be friction between a charter school and a district, because the district sees the charter school as taking away a source of revenue. My experience is the district, particularly within the past year, has been incredibly supportive. They’re really trying to help us pull this off.”

Enrollment at Cannon Beach Academy is limited to 22 students. “It’s offering something a bit unique,” Simmons said.

Families not only in Cannon Beach but in Seaside, Gearhart and other portions of Clatsop County in the Seaside School District will benefit from the school’s Spanish language component and direct instruction curriculum design, he said. “If they want this curriculum, it’s open to them,” Simmons said. “It’s great for the district. It will encourage folks to move here because of this choice, I believe.”

With enrollment underway, the academy’s lease agreement at 171 Sunset Boulevard is nearly complete.

Renovations include “moving a few walls and putting some paint in there,” Simmons said, as well as meeting compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Improvements will begin after the lease is complete.

“We’ve got a budget for it and we don’t anticipate any significant problems,” Simmons said.

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