The Bend-La Pine Schools board gave the green light to a new charter school and a name to the district’s new elementary school at its meeting Tuesday.
The board chose Silver Rail Elementary, home of the Steam Engines, for the name of the school. Last month, a naming committee brought the board three possible names: Amelia Earhart Elementary, Homestead Elementary and Silver Rail Elementary. Tammy Doty, principal of La Pine Elementary, will be principal of Silver Rail when it opens. On the charter school, the board voted unanimously to authorize negotiation of the charter for Bend International School, also set to open for the 2015-16 school year. In Oregon, charter schools are privately run, publicly funded schools that exist within a school district.

At a hearing last month on Bend International School’s application, some board members said they worried about the size of the school, which had proposed opening with 195 students. Organizers of Bend International School say it would offer K-8 students a Spanish immersion program and an exchange program with a school in Mexico to promote multiculturalism and global competency. The school’s director, Meera Rupp, told the board Tuesday the school has students signed up but was waiting for its approval to start recruiting. Board members said they were not afraid of competition from charter schools but wanted to ensure they are well run and gave families educational options the district does not already provide. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved the 2015-16 school calendar and a preliminary 2016-17 calendar. Under construction south of Reed Market Road and west of American Lane in Bend, it is set to open for the 2015-16 school year.

The naming committee said the Steam Engine mascot also plays off the education concept STEAM, for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Also Tuesday, the district announced Patrick Flanagan, assistant principal at La Pine Elementary, would take over as principal there for the 2015-16 school year. Bend-La Pine sponsors one charter school, the Rimrock Expeditionary Alternative Learning Middle School, or REALMS, though officials are in talks to turn that into a district-run magnet middle school.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Ron Wilkinson recommended a three-year charter that would work up to that number: Enrollment would be capped at 134 students in the first year, 162 in the second year and 195 in the third year.

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