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Residents fill Green Springs school board meeting to discuss new proposed charter school

Residents of the Green Springs community and the Rogue Valley attended the Pinehurst School Board meeting Wednesday to discuss the creation of a new charter school.
Jane Vaughan
Residents of the Green Springs community and the Rogue Valley attended the Pinehurst School Board meeting on Wednesday to discuss the possible creation of a new charter school in the region.

Residents packed the gymnasium of one of Oregon’s smallest school districts on Wednesday night to discuss a controversial proposal for a new charter school.

Just outside of Ashland, the Pinehurst School District has a total enrollment of 15 students. Its school board is now considering a proposal to create a new charter school that could swell the district to almost 700 students in the next five years, according to the proposal.

It would be part of John Adams Academies, which has three charter schools in California. They teach a classical education curriculum, which promotes traditional educational values. The proposal was brought by three Ashland residents, one of whom lives in the rural Green Springs community.

Over 100 residents attended the meeting Wednesday night. Most of those who spoke were against it.

Some audience members carried signs in favor of the new school, reading "Support School Choice." Others wore shirts opposing the new school, saying "Protect Pinehurst Vote No."

Resident Ron Garfus-Knowles opposed the plan because it would use the district to create a much larger school that would be located in the Rogue Valley, in addition to a smaller school within the district.

“The formation of the John Adams Academy by the Pinehurst School District will be a detriment to the Pinehurst School student body, the Pinehurst school district and the Green Springs community,” Garfus-Knowles said.

Resident Valerie Holbo supported the new school because she said it would provide more choice in education.

“Change is scary, change is inevitable, and progress embraces change,” Holbo said. “Our community will benefit from John Adams Academy, our children will benefit from John Adams Academy, and it should be the parents and the students who are the primary focus.”

The School Board now has 30 days to decide whether or not to accept the proposal.

Correction: This story was updated to reflect that Pinehurst School District currently has 15 students enrolled, not 12.

Jane Vaughan is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. Jane began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media.