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Group hosts panel discussions with charter schools

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    Melanie Sharpless, the headmaster at Founders Classical Academy, speaks to an attendee at the parent information night in Bastrop. Photo courtesy of Bastrop CAN
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    Parker Couch (left) and Mera Dougherty (right) explain the details of Compass Rose Public Schools at the parent information night in Elgin. Photo by Julianne Hodges

A local initiative to bring a charter school to Bastrop County hosted two parent information sessions last month with representatives from interested charter school systems.

Bastrop Charter School Network (CAN) is a parent advocate network that is working to bring potential charter schools to Bastrop County. Public charter schools are tuition-free and open to all students with flexibility to meet students’ individual needs, according to Bastrop CAN’s website. The group held a launch meeting on September 9.

On Tuesday, September 22, Bastrop CAN hosted a parent information meeting at the Bastrop Convention Center with representatives from Compass Rose Public Schools, Great Hearts Online and Founders Classical Academy, as well as a representative from the Texas Public Charter Schools Association.

Brandon Garcia, the Central Texas director of outreach and advocacy for the Texas Public Charter Schools Association, answered general questions about charter schools, such as what they are and the basic method of applying to attend a charter school. Meanwhile, the representatives from the charter schools explained the specifics of their systems, such as the specific application process and which students are chosen to attend when there are more applicants than seats.

Melanie Sharpless, the headmaster of Founders Classical Academy, explained their model of classical learning, which focuses on promoting not only knowledge, but virtue and civic responsibility. She said this education prepares students not only for a vocation, but to be better people and good citizens.

Mera Dougherty, the founding head of school for Compass Rose Public Schools, explained their community co-design model, where Compass Rose designs a campus’ programs based on the background and needs of the community. For example, Dougherty said she has seen interest in an agricultural science program in Bastrop County.

Kurtis Indorf, the executive director of Great Hearts Online, explained how existing charter school system Great Hearts has recently launched Great Hearts Online, a completely online liberal arts education program. He said they want to give parents more options for education, and there is a demand and need for it.

At the end of the panel discussion, led by Bastrop CAN board member Randan Steinhauser, questions were opened to the audience. Parents and educators asked the panelists questions about topics such as bus transportation, teacher training and the timeline for starting a potential charter school.

On Tuesday, September 29, Bastrop CAN hosted another meeting in Elgin with representatives of Compass Rose Public Schools.

The meetings were livestreamed via Facebook Live and can be found on the Facebook page @BastropCAN.