Charter Middle School Plan Moves Forward

If Jacqueline Elliot has her way, Pacoima will see a charter middle school open in the fall of 1999.

Elliot--curriculum advisor at Montague Charter Academy, a Pacoima charter elementary school--recently received $35,000 in federal grant money distributed through the California Department of Education to fund the planning of the middle school, a project she proposed.

"I decided that the middle school population at this point is the neediest," said Elliot, who cited high teenage pregnancy rates, crowded classrooms and numerous suspensions at Pacoima middle schools as some of the problems she hopes to alleviate.

Based on the idea that individual schools and not centralized bureaucracies know what is best for students, charter campuses control their own budgets and are exempt from many state regulations governing public schools.

According to Elliot's plan, 100 students would start sixth grade at the proposed middle school in the fall of 1999. By 2001, 300 students in three grade levels--sixth, seventh and eighth--would be enrolled.

She has retained a real-estate agent to help find a suitable location.

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