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For Immediate Release
October 10, 2004

New State Board of Education
announces agreement for charter high school in Venice

Springfield, Ill. –State Board of Education Interim Superintendent Randy Dunn unveiled an agreement between the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Venice Community Unit School District for a charter high school in Venice. Dunn made the announcement in Venice, following a meeting with community leaders there.

The agreement follows the Governor’s call to action last week for the State Board to approve a charter school in Venice.

“This community has worked hard to make a charter school in Venice a reality,” said Dunn. “The State Board heard the Governor’s call to quickly end a long bureaucratic struggle for this community. Following his direction, we have worked closely with the Venice community on an innovative plan grounded in common sense. It’s the right thing for the kids and what they deserve.”

Dunn announced the agreement for Lincoln Charter School (LCS) today, following intensive work over the last few days with Madison County Regional Superintendent Harry Briggs, Venice Schools Superintendent Mary Hagan, and a number of community leaders.

Specifics of the agreement include:

  • The Lincoln Charter School Board is partnering with community organizations and education experts to provide access to all available resources for success.
    • The Madison County Urban League will assist in the delivery of additional social services for students and families at Lincoln School.
    • Southern Illinois University will provide consultation as well as professional development for LCS faculty and staff.
  • LCS will be formed as a not-for-profit organization with a strong, experienced board that draws on community resources.
  • At the request of the Venice School Board, and because of the unique circumstances surrounding establishing LCS, ISBE has agreed to be a partner in the school’s oversight.
  • LCS has developed an academic calendar that assures LCS students will attend the requisite number of school days. The LCS calendar will include students’ attendance in other districts.
  • For any students that have not been in school and need supplemental hours, LCS will provide additional classroom instruction.
  • The Venice School District, Regional Superintendent Harry Briggs, local leaders and the State Board will work to identify resources for financial and programmatic support to assist the school.

LCS Board members will include: Elliot Lessen, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; Starsky Wilson, Madison County Urban League; Regional Superintendent Harry Briggs; and Venice Schools Superintendent Mary Hagan.

“The remarkable work of the Venice community in the struggle to do the right thing for their children, and the strong support of so many community leaders has led to a plan that will move quickly to get students into the classroom,” said Dunn. “They will now have a good school. They deserve that.”

“Last month, when the Governor appointed seven new members to the State Board, he made it clear that the Board was accountable not just to him, but, to you and all the people in every community in Illinois,” said Dunn. “What happened here shows how accountability can bring about positive change. When I reviewed the proposal that had been stalled for so many months, I felt that many of the reasons cited earlier as deficiencies weren’t truly problems.”

“Uprooting kids to send them outside their community to schools facing similar challenges as their hometown school doesn’t make sense,” said Dunn. “The community knew it was unacceptable and so did our Governor, who has made education a top priority for his administration. Working with a new team in place at the State Board, under the Governor’s leadership, we now have a plan that addresses the Venice community’s needs while meeting the intent and letter of state and federal law.”

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777