North Star plans to stay open, despite charter vote

North Star Charter School plans to open in fall even though the Meridian School District voted Tuesday to revoke its charter.

Read the letter from Meridian School District to North Star

“Our biggest challenge is the public relations piece with our teachers and parents,” said Jim Miller, North Star board chairman.

Miller said he plans to write teachers and parents at the financially troubled school, asking them to stay the course while North Star tries to find a way to keep the charter that allows it to operate.

“If we don’t get people to come back, it’s all over,” Miller said.

He has reports that some families are double-enrolling both in North Star and in Meridian District schools, in case North Star does not remain open.

North Star instruction covers kindergarten through high school it has a Harbor program that blends student safey and respect  with academic standards and an International Baccalaureate program.

Meridian trustees’ vote Tuesday set off a process that includes a public hearing and appeal to the State Board of Education if Meridian trustees uphold their original decision following the hearing.

Miller, the only representative from North Star who came to the board meeting Tuesday, was surprised by the board’s decision.

North Star had met all the requirements in a letter of defect the board sent the school in spring, Miller said.

“I thought it was going to be ‘thank you for your report, (now) go forth.’ ”

Instead, Meridian board members said the school had not taken enough steps to secure North Star’s financial stability.

North Star fell into financial problems when it sold bonds for construction of an $11.7 million building in 2008 with a 9.75 percent interest rate.

As North Star’s financial situation deteriorated, the school faced not meeting its bill at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

North Star worked out an arrangement with bondholders that gave them access to $1.4 million in funds to help carry the school through this school year and the 2013-2014 year, said Miller.

But Meridian trustees raised questions about the agreement between North Star and its bondholders. The agreement could easily be terminated by bondholders, Meridian Superintendent Linda Clark said in the letter to Miller Wednesday. It also gives the school authority to take on more debt, by adding more staff, and doesn’t offer a plan for how North Star would eventually pay the $1.4 million, Clark told the Statesman.

Posted in In The Classroom