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MailTribune.com
  • Madrone Trail parents want new board

    Medford School Board hears concerns about charter school's governance
  • Madrone Trail Charter School parents are pleading with the Medford School Board for help in changing the governance of the Waldorf-inspired charter school.
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  • Madrone Trail Charter School parents are pleading with the Medford School Board for help in changing the governance of the Waldorf-inspired charter school.
    A packed board room of parents and some Madrone Trail staff Monday night listened as parents Matt York and Abigail Hatfield shared a 40-page packet of information about perceived weaknesses of the school's current board of directors and proposals for change.
    The 200-student school opened in 2007 is run by the nonprofit Madrone Trail Initiative, while operating under a contract with the Medford School District.
    The school's current charter will expire June 30, and the school submitted a letter before Monday's meeting to the Medford School District requesting that the board renew the school's charter for five years.
    The packet said parents are concerned with the composition of the current Madrone Trail board, which they believe includes too few parents and could benefit from more faculty involvement.
    "The current board is not representative of the major stakeholders of our school," said York.
    According to the parent packet, only one board member is the parent of a current student. The board also includes one grandparent and one former parent.
    Parents also are concerned no board members are Waldorf educators, which may lead the school away from its original goal of being Waldorf-inspired.
    The Madrone Trail bylaws require that at least two of the seven to nine members "must be people with experience or training in teaching the Waldorf educational curriculum," but don't elaborate on the type of experience or how extensive the training must be.
    Madrone Trail board Chairman Doug Breidenthal has said previously that three of the board members have received some training in Waldorf methods.
    A petition circulated by Madrone Trail parents in March collected more than 130 signatures of parents who requested that the board's bylaws be changed.
    Medford School Board member Paulie Brading said she supported the goals of the parents who attended Monday's meeting.
    "I'm understanding your issue," said Brading. "I really support what you're attempting to do."
    Parents asked the Medford School Board to approve the five-year charter for Madrone Trail, but to somehow require the school to change the governance of its board.
    School Board chairman Jeff Thomas questioned whether the Medford School Board has the power to require Madrone Trail to change its school board when working through the renewal process.
    Under Oregon charter school law, the school board will have 45 days from the school submitting its intent to renew to decide whether to move forward with the renewal process.
    If the board votes to renew the charter, the district will then head to negotiations with the school to revise its charter.
    The district could ask Madrone Trail officials to modify its bylaws to change the governance of the board during the negotiation process, which could last until the end of the school year, according to Julie Evans, the district's director of elementary education and supervisor of charter schools.
    Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.
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