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Agricultural Charter School Being Planned in Fox Lake
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/01/2011

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced it has approved a planning grant to be used for the development of a new agricultural-based charter school in Dodge County. Fox Lake Mayor Tom Bednarek says the School for Agriculture and Environmental Studies, or SAGES, would be housed in the city's former elementary school building, which was shut down two years ago by the Waupun Area School District.

According to Interim School Superintendent Don Childs, the $200,000 planning grant will help the district find curriculum, purchase supplies and set up computers for staff and students to use.

"So far no one has created an agricultural or environmental curriculum for charter schools so we will be developing one that will be seamless among the grade levels," Childs told the Fond du Lac Reporter, adding that a pledge of support has also come from the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The newspaper reports that in its first year, the school will accommodate students in grades kindergarten through six grade. The second year would include seventh graders, and the third year would welcome eighth-grade students. Childs said the school is expected to open for the 2012-13 school year.

Officials say at least 50 students will need to enroll in the new school in order to justify opening the doors. Bednarek says some families have already stepped forward and agreed to send their children to the school.

Plans for the new charter school got rolling last December when the school board decided to apply for the grant.

The new charter school would have no impact on the district's tax levy, but Childs says they do expect a slight increase in building operations costs for utilities and maintenance.

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