Banta school board sets future of River Islands schools
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jun 28, 2014 | 3787 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BANTA — The Banta Elementary School District board passed a one-year lease agreement with the River Islands Technology Academy on June 19 and outlined future changes for the school campus.

In addition to the existing charter school, Banta officials plan to begin setting up a science academy inside two existing classrooms this August, followed by the opening of a middle school in August 2015.

“This is a big benefit to the students of Banta at River Islands,” Banta Superintendent Albert Garibaldi said. “What you’re going to have is two outstanding programs for students to go to.”

“We’re trying to continue to support the charter,” he said. “I think it’s a very good program, and I think we’re going to have a very good program. This campus was never designed to be one campus; it’s two schools.”

Garibaldi said five students are already enrolled in the Banta school at River Islands, but he said the number is not guaranteed, because families won’t occupy the first homes under construction there until August.

He said the district would advertise the new Banta program with signs at River Islands to attract people visiting to look at builders’ model houses as they open up.

The most recent opening was Saturday, by Van Daele Homes. It was preceded by the opening of DeNova Homes models on May 17. Brookfield Residential will open its models in mid-July.

“You go out there and now you’re seeing houses going up, and pretty soon we’re going to have a lot of children that we are responsible for to educate,” said Frank Silva, president of the Banta school board.

“We said we’re going to be out there with a program; it’s nothing new,” Silva said. “We don’t want to displace the kids that are there now, even though they’re not from our district — we agreed to have them there. That’s why we’re willing to work with the charter side by side and have two good programs out there.”

According to the lease agreement passed unanimously by the Banta board June 19, the technology charter school will have the use of the majority of the campus in River Islands, while Banta will retain use of two science classrooms in Building G. The district also keeps the option to expand the campus by constructing permanent or temporary buildings, with an aim of using middle school facilities for its programs there beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

Garibaldi, who also serves on the River Islands Technology Academy board, said he wanted feedback from the Banta board about a possible multi-year lease requested by the charter board of trustees recently.

“In my opinion, change the lease, that’s out,” Silva said.

Banta trustees Joe Perry and Patricia Speer said they agreed that Banta should keep control of the site with annual renewals.

“We’re about the children in our district,” Perry said. “That’s our job, so our focus should be to try and work together, but we’re still a separation and ownership of the school is ours.”

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at drizzo@tracypress.com or 830-4225.

 
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