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Troubled Reno Charter School Will Stay Open, For Now

Rainshadow Community Charter High School

The 113 students at Rainshadow Community Charter High School in Reno will get to continue their courses this spring despite the school's teetering finances. The Washoe County School Board voted Wednesday to keep the facility open--at least for right now. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman has the story.

In order to avoid a large deficit this spring, the school has proposed slashing salaries by 16% and cutting three positions. The changes will keep the school just slightly in the black, but there are risks.

"There's no guarantee that the staff will remain at the school through the end of the year," said Mike Doering, who is with the district, at last week's school board meeting. "And, you know, it is a small staff there already. If staff were to leave it could be detrimental to just the education of the students there."

The board of trustees has approved keeping the school open through June. Rainshadow officials will have to apply to get their charter renewed, but Superintendent Traci Davis says there must be proof that the organization is financially stable:

"To me, the real issue is, 'How do we get off the roller coaster, so that we're not in a board meeting having to make a hard decision for kids every year?'"

Rainshadow is an alternative school for kids who might not fit the mold of a more traditional public school. It opened in 2003 and Jennifer Hottinga says it's made a difference.

"My daughter's part of the twenty children that came to Rainshadow as a freshman. Nineteen of them are graduating; only one child that started as a freshman isn't graduating," Hottinga said. "And I think there's something to be said about that."

Rainshadow has had flaky financials for several years now and this is not the first time the school has faced a possible closure.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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