In May 2018, after the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District voted to close Big Park Community School, a parent-initiated group, Big Park Education Exploratory Committee, was formed to explore how the school could be re-established. Everyone agreed that a neighborhood school was in the best interest of younger children and the community:
• The successful IB program could be reinstated,
• Students wouldn’t have to be transported long distances,
• Students and parents could be more involved in after-school activities and tutoring,
• It is essential to a vibrant community, attracting new families, reigniting community volunteerism and fundraising, and keeping local businesses sustainable.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, the Committee examined different routes to reestablish a neighborhood school. The most promising was ASU Prep.
• Currently operates 13 successful charter schools,
• Employs the Cambridge curriculum, of similar caliber to the IB program used by Big Park School,
• Has a successful record of students continuing into higher education.
The most compelling reason for selecting ASU Prep was they had an interest in improving the quality of education in Arizona rural communities that have been hit hard with declining enrollment.
The school district had other plans to pursue and did not, at that time, want to lease the Big Park School campus to a charter school.
Understandably, this outcome has deflated Big Park families’ hopes of re-opening their neighborhood school. I strongly encourage SOCUSD and the Big Park Community to engage in a series of discussions to explore undiscovered educational and financial avenues that will provide the best education for all students, attracting families back to this area as well as increasing school district enrollment.
As stewards of both our children’s and community’s future, I believe we can rise above our differences and become a model of respectful dialogue and collaboration for the benefit of our children. The Big Park Education Exploratory Committee is moving forward with evaluating emerging ideas and welcomes the participation of the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District Board. It’s time to work together.
Big Park Education
Editor's Note: According to Sedona-Oak Creek School Board member and VOC resident Heather Hermen: "Not once has a charter school approached the district or even expressed interest in Big Park School facility by making any contact to engage in discussions. So, the district has only pursued the plans and initiatives set forth as a district under new leadership."
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