School will receive startup grant
The Walden Academy in Willows received confirmation Monday that it will receive its startup grant from the Public Charter School Grant Program.
The school applied for the grant last fall, when it opened its door under the new charter, school officials said.
Walden was notified by the California Department of Education, which administers the federal grant program, that the school will receive $575,000, announced Walden board president Kelly Lawler.
The money will be used to repay the $200,00 loan from Glenn County Office of Education and for program expenses next year.
"This week we have a lot to celebrate about at Walden" said Lawler, in a statement. "We turn a year old this week, and now we have the confirmation of the grant award."
Walden, which is the county's smallest school district, has a 120-student, five-teacher program for students in grade kindergarten through sixth grade.
Walden will put the money toward research and development of its natural resource-based curriculum, purchase a schoolwide math curriculum, and develop a merit based teacher evaluation system and multiple science and math related training for teachers.
The bulk of the grant will be dedicated to science and technology, Lawler said.
Walden plans to invest about $75,000 towards technology.
The school's biggest purchase will be the $115,000 mobile science classroom for use at school and in the field.
Walden also has plans to develop music, after school programs and a sports program, and have also set aside funds to outfit classrooms with more furniture and library books.
"This grant is going to allow us to take Walden Academy to the next level," Lawler said.
Walden's Chief Financial Officer Merilee Vanderwaal was the driving force behind 19-page grant application, which spelled out the school's work plan and budget.
"The funds provided with this grant will allow us to continue to build upon the solid academic program we have already set in motion," Vanderwaal said.
Walden officials notified Glenn County Office of Education that the grant would be funded in time to repay the loan.
The Board of Education in April deferred the loan payment due in February to June, to allow Walden to secure funding from the grant program or other sources.
"This is exciting news," Deputy Superintendent Shirley Diaz, of the Glenn County Office of Education, said Wednesday. "We are very happy for Walden."
Walden Academy is the first independent charter school established in Glenn County.
William Finch, a K-12 program, is a dependent charter school, which operates under the umbrella of the Glenn County Office of Education.
Both charters were designed to give parents and students alternatives to standard public school instruction.
Walden Academy's instructional program incorporates state standards for curriculum, but uses natural resources as an integrating context, Lawler said.