Burned-out school may lose charter without home

RICKREALL, Ore. (KOIN) — After fire destroyed the Eola Hills Charter School in Polk County last October, they moved into a temporary facility.

But now, six months later, if they don’t find a permanent home by the end of the year they could lose their charter.

“We need somebody to step forward and either let us rent a piece of their property or let us lease to purchase,” principal Nicole Wollenweber told KOIN 6 News.

Inside the temporary Eola Hills Charter School in Polk County, April 11, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Inside the temporary Eola Hills Charter School in Polk County, April 11, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“We have moved to this temporary site at Willamette ESD in McMinnville, which has been wonderful. However, we’ve been told that we have to be back in the Amity school district by the ’14-’15 school year,” she said.

Wollenweber said her publicly-funded school cters to students facing social, behavior and other academic challenges. Eola Hill receives funds-per-student, with no additional tax or grant money to help.

By now, parents, students and teachers hoped a permanent spot would be available.

“There’s absolutely no leases or rentals for commercial property in the Amity school district at this time,” Wollenweber said. “So finding a piece of land that we could put a modular on, or building a school on, is pretty much impossible at this time.”

Charter school fire-Jolene Guzman-Polk Itemizer Observer
Flames pour from Eola Hills Charter School Thursday afternoon, Oct. 3, 2013. The school was destroyed. (Polk Itemizer-Observer/Jolene Guzman)

The McMinnville School District told KOIN 6 News space is limited there, too.

It’s not the news parents like Stacey McGhehey wanted to hear. Her daughter, she said, benefitted from the individualized education while dealing with anxiety.

“I don’t know where my daughter would be if she had stayed in the main stream school,” McGhehey said. “This is going to be one of those parenting moments where we try to appease that anxiety. It’s going to be a rough summer if we don’t know where we’re going.”

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