Chesterton Tribune

Discovery Charter School begins third year

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The usual chaos of the first days of school is enough to wreck the nerves for any school administrator, but Discovery Charter School director Ernesto Martinez said there is no such hubbub in his hallways this week.

“It doesn’t feel like the start of school, minus the (lines for) lunch and the carpools,” he said at Wednesday’s Discovery Board of Directors meeting.

Discovery entered its third academic year on Monday and not even a few minor snafus could dampen the spirits of its students ready to take in the Discovery experience.

“They feel like it’s their own place here,” said board member Linda Simon.

“The kids are so happy,” added fellow board member Jeanne Girzadas.

Enrollment count

The enrollment number for this year is 452 students which is over 100 more than last year, Martinez said. Enrollments will be submitted to the Indiana Department of Education on Sept. 14, the day it counts average daily membership.

Numbers are up since the school has added eighth grade to its curriculum. Discovery’s new assistant director Ryan Erdelac said the school has hired at least four new teachers for the academic year.

Construction in limbo

Discovery board president Laurie Metz said one of the current challenges the school is facing is that Phase Three construction projects have come to a stop temporarily while the school is waiting on a state permit to finish construction and painting in the new rooms. The permits were expected earlier this week but are now expected to come in the next day or two.

Metz said the rooms should be ready to move into sometime next week. Right now students are using other spaces until the project is complete.

Phase Three construction on the south side of the school building is to add a middle school Social Studies room, an English room, two new fifth grade classrooms and a larger technology room. The space will also include new restrooms, storage rooms and an entryway.

Student pick up traffic

Martinez said other issues will “work themselves out” quickly, specifically lines seen in the lunchroom and at student pick up. A line of cars backed up almost to U.S. 20 when school let out at 3:30 p.m. on the first day, which Martinez said was “typical.” The lines will diminish he said as parents are able to coordinate carpool systems.

Erdelac said pick up time has been reduced by ten or twenty minutes since Monday.

“If we could get 240 cars down to 140, it would be a breeze,” he said.

Long lines of students that have formed for lunch also continue to decrease as students are getting used to the routine, Martinez said.

The board also heard about plans to put in new acoustic panels to soundproof classrooms. Girzadas said bids are starting to come in and the school may decide to place panels in its ceiling first and then panel its walls at a later date.

Girzadas, who is the president of Discovery’s Parents Action Council, said PAC plans to kick in some funding for the panel projects.

Martinez said Discovery will continue to take on environmental friendly initiatives to reach the status of an “eco-school” which is granted by the National Wildlife Foundation.

After School Spanish

In a separate matter, Simon reported the after-school sessions for learning Spanish are quite popular with a total 90 participants signing up. At least one course will be offered each school day. The courses will start the third week of September.

One of the instructors is a native Spanish speaker from Columbia and will teach the course five days a week. A second instructor is a Discovery Charter School parent who teaches the language at Valparaiso University. She will be available to teach two days per week, Simon said.

Due to the popularity, Martinez said Discovery may open more sessions during lunch.

Board seat still open

Metz said the board is still searching for a successor for former board vice-president Gretchen Voskuhl. At the board’s previous meeting in July, Metz said they prefer a candidate who would have a background working in the environmental field. Interested persons should contact the school office whose phone number is 983-9800.

Also on Wednesday

• Metz said the school received a large amount of donated art supplies that had belonged to the late Marsha Demkovich who was a long-time instructor of children’s art classes at the Chesterton Art Center. Demkovich’s husband Rick made the donation.

• Discovery will have a “Back-to-School” Coffee Chat session next Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for school staff and parents. Meanwhile, the school’s Fall Festival put on by PAC will be held Sunday, Sept. 30, from 1-4 p.m. at Discovery.

• Martinez said the school is in the process of setting up an outdoor classroom and will open a space behind the Discovery sign on Canonie Drive.

 

Posted 8/23/2012