In the midst of a great deal of frustration over the current state of education in Arizona and our city, one more charter school is looking to set up shop in Flagstaff.
U.S. News & World Report recently ranked BASIS Schools, Inc. out of Tucson among the Top 10 of more than 22,000 public high schools in the nation. Newsweek ranked it number five of the Best American High Schools.
Now, BASIS has its eye on Flagstaff. And several area business leaders and parents have an eye on it, hoping for yet another education option for local children.
The BASIS curriculum is based upon European ones in which children are challenged often well beyond what is found in typical American public schools.
At BASIS, middle school students are required to take subjects including English, Biology, Chemistry, algebra, foreign language, history, and fine arts.
Flagparents4basis Committee Chairman Brandon Lurie says he is working hard to bring BASIS to Flagstaff. He says he wants to help students receive a top-notch education, thereby improving the community overall. “While a top school that has a student body of at least 600 kids has great potential benefits for the Flagstaff business community, our only motivation is to provide our children with the best educational opportunity available,” Lurie said.
Representatives from BASIS School visited Flagstaff in February and liked what they saw. Administrators say they are interested in creat- ing a middle and upper school here. The goal is to open for the 2011-2012 school year, probably serving fifth through ninth grades.
“With studies demonstrating that American students are lagging further and further behind their international peers, the BASIS Schools seek to raise the bar by offering American students a rigorous academic curriculum at or above international standards,” Arwynn Mattix of BASIS Educational Group said.
Vaughn Peterson, an associate at W.L. Gore, has lived in Flagstaff for 12 years and believes a school with a challenging program would help the community.
“I am personally very excited about the prospect of the BASIS school coming to Flag- staff, both for my own young children and for W.L. Gore and Associates in Flagstaff. Having another top-flight school in town will be an asset in attracting and retaining top talent who consider the quality of their children’s educa- tion an important factor in choosing Flagstaff as a place to live and work,” Peterson said.
Andi Thode, assistant professor with Northern Arizona University’s School of Forestry, agrees. “Having a school like BASIS in Flagstaff would help to attract and retain new faculty and staff positions at NAU,” Thode said.
BASIS has a Tucson campus and one in Scottsdale. The third BASIS school is sched- uled to open in Oro Valley in the fall of 2010.
Recently, another Flagstaff charter school, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy (FALA), announced it will open a middle school campus this fall. The school currently serves students ninth through twelfth grades.
There are other charter middle schools in town as well, including Flagstaff Junior Acad- emy, Montessori Middle School, Northland Preparatory Academy, Pine Forest and Peak School. There are also a few private schools.
While the number of charter schools is on the rise, the number of public schools is expected to be cut this summer, mainly due to state education funding cuts.
At 6:00 p.m. Friday, May 7, the Flagstaff Unified School District governing board will discuss closing one or more schools. Three elementary schools, all three middle schools and all three high schools have been put on alert that they may be closed. Public input is encouraged.
A few weeks ago, FUSD mailed 270 Reduction in Force notices to teachers and staff. According to FUSD school superintendent Barbara Hickman, the district is facing between $4 and $11 million in lost state funding if the upcoming one-cent sales tax is not passed by Arizona voters on May 18.
In the meantime, BASIS school administra- tors want Flagstaff parents whose children will be in grades fifth through ninth grade in the fall of 2011 to attend a documentary titled “2 Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution.” The showing will be at the Orpheum Theater at 6:00 p.m. on May 24. Tickets cost $3 and are available through Brandon Lurie at flagpar- firstname.lastname@example.org. The group also has a Facebook page under “Flagstaff Parents for BASIS schools.” Net proceeds will help fund a BASIS school in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff real estate broker Wayne McCormick says when he works with clients, they ask him if Flagstaff schools offer college prepa- ratory programs. “They often do their research to make sure the public school system is up to par. Many of them say they’re concerned about what Flagstaff schools offer. So, BASIS will give them a reassurance that there is aca- demic excellence here,” he said. FBN