Nord charter OK’d

It’s a go: The tiny farming community of Nord can have its own school.

Members of the charter’s founding group are doling out tasks in preparation for the next stage, which is opening the school for the 2005-06 school year.

The Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously May 18 to approve Nord Country School’s charter for a two-year period.

“I’m very, very impressed,” said Trustee Scott Huber. The other four trustees joined him in commending the charter supporters.

“You were able to do in a couple of months what most take 12 to 18 months to do,” said board President Rick Anderson.

Trustees, expressing sadness at the time, had voted in March to close Nord Elementary School to save an estimated $164,000 and balance the budget.

Just two months later, the mood in Nord is upbeat.

“We’re going to have a wonderful school,” said Marcia Worden, a member of the founders group. “We have a great feeling of accomplishment.”

The founders met May 23 to decide how they will devise policies for employment, parent involvement and other specifics.

“We are open and receptive to all students,” Worden said.

The board also decided, at the recommendation of the district Charter Review Committee, to require the school to place $159,000 in escrow to ensure that it can operate financially. Furthermore, the school must hire or pay the district to provide a one-day-a-week administrative person, such as a principal.

Worden said that while they have been making some inquiries, no one has been chosen for the post. She also said Nord Country School has formed a nonprofit that can hold the money instead of an escrow account.

The founders have raised more than $50,000 in cash and the ability to draw on a $100,000 line of credit at a local bank.

At the May 18 board meeting, attorney Jerry Simmons of the charter-expert firm Spector, Middleton, Young and Minney told trustees that no promises of employment are being made to current staffers, but that they are welcome to apply.

The week after the vote, Worden praised Superintendent Scott Brown, district staff and trustees for their help throughout the charter process. “We are so grateful,” she said.

The board had held a special meeting at Nord Elementary School on May 16 to give the charter supporters extra time to get their application perfect. The number of supporters was so great that they did not all fit in the school’s cafeteria, where the meeting was held.