NOSD, Riveredge ink charter school deal

School district, nature center finalize agreement to create outdoor classroom program that will start in fall 2019
Ozaukee Press staff

The Northern Ozaukee School District and Riveredge Nature Center near Newburg this week finalized their agreement to create a charter school that would feature outdoor classrooms at the center starting in the fall of 2019.

The NOSD school board unanimously approved the contract at its Monday night meeting after officials at Riveredge had signed off on an amended contract proposed.

The only change made in the contract is that teachers at the Riveredge school, dubbed the Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School, or ROLES, will be employed through Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 6, the Oshkosh-based regional consortium of public school districts. 

Doing so will allow ROLES teachers to  be part of the Wisconsin Retirement System. Riveredge Board of Directors President Ted Nietzke is administrator of CESA 6.

ROLES will ultimately accommodate up to 99 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. The initial enrollment when the school opens in September 2019 will be closer to 60, however, officials say.

The school will use the nature center’s 379 acres of restored natural sanctuary in the Town of Saukville as an outdoor classroom on a year-round basis. It will be the first such school in southeast Wisconsin and one of just a few in the state, officials say.

The school was recently awarded a $700,000 start-up grant through the state Department of Public Instruction that will be paid out over the next five years. The grant will help fund a lead teacher, support services, equipment purchases and classroom furniture and other start-up costs.

NOSD will serve as ROLES’ fiscal agent and will receive 5%, or $35,000, of that money over those five years.

Under the contract, NOSD also will receive $500 per student who attends ROLES and an additional one-third of state aid that accompanies any child who attends the school from outside NOSD.

ROLES will be a public school and be tuition free. It will be an independent organization led by a governance council and will be financially self-sustaining without need for fundraising. It will receive state aid.

Transportation, food service and services for disabled students will be available and could involve federal assistance and oversight, Riveredge Executive Director Jessica Jens said.

“It’s early yet to know those details but that definitely is our intention,” she said.

Interest in the school has been high, even though applications aren’t yet being accepted. An online survey showed families from 20 different school districts expressing interest in sending their children to the school, officials say.

Riveredge already has a popular 4K program that it operates in partnership with the Kettle Moraine YMCA and the West Bend School District. In addition, it holds summer camps and other outdoor activities that model how the new school might operate.

The Riveredge charter school would be the second for Ozaukee County, the other being Wisconsin Virtual Learning, also sponsored by the Northern Ozaukee School District.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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