VIBES charter school proposal hits snag

AKids Unlimited charter school application submitted to the Medford School District has been deemed incomplete for the second time in two years, the district said Friday.

"Of course it's disappointing," said Tom Cole, director of Kids Unlimited. "But we're still very focused on moving forward."

In sending the document back to Kids Unlimited Thursday, district officials said there were still some parts of the K-8 school application that needed additional work.

"It was a comprehensive plan, don't get me wrong," said Julie Evans, district supervisor of elementary education.

Evans said the application was thorough, but still had a few areas that needed improvement.

The proposed charter school, VIBES, would serve primarily at-risk students in grades K-8 at Kids Unlimited, 821 N. Riverside Ave., and in an adjacent building.

Some of the school's goals were to provide longer school days, a longer school year and more family involvement.

Cole said the organization's next step will be to reconvene Kids Unlimited board members and other community partners who worked on the application and plan a meeting with district administration.

"We need to make sure we're all on the same page," said Cole. "So the first step is sitting back down with the district."

The application returned Thursday was significantly more detailed than a previous application submitted by the group last year, according to both Cole and Evans.

Last spring Kids Unlimited proposed a sixth-to-eighth grade charter school, aiming to help kids with the difficult transition from elementary school to high school.

When the district deemed that application incomplete, Kids Unlimited staff headed back to the drawing board, returning more than a year later with an entirely new plan for a K-8 school.

"It was much more in depth this time," said Evans.

The district returned the application to Kids Unlimited within a required 15-day window, but Kids Unlimited has no timeline to adhere to should it decide to resubmit the application.

Evans said she hoped to hear back from the organization soon so that the district could explain the application's deficiencies. She declined to disclose the shortcomings.

"We're hoping we can start to work out the details," said Evans. "It's minor details, little holes and gaps. I think they will be able to complete the application. That's my opinion."

Under Oregon statutes, charter school applications must include more than 25 elements, including descriptions of the school's target population, admission policies and teaching techniques.

If Kids Unlimited's application is deemed complete by the district in the future, the next step would be a 60-day review period by district officials.

During the review period, the district will decide whether the proposed charter is viable, and if it would have a positive effect on the district.

From there, the administration would make a recommendation to the School Board. If the decision is to go forward, the board would establish the charter, a contract between the district and the school outlining how it will operate.

Cole said that despite the application being deemed incomplete, the organization would continue its mission to form the charter school.

"We put a lot of work into this application," said Cole. "Our plan is certainly not to give up."

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or

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