Hamburg High hopes rest with charter status

Veronica Barreto-Rosa
Hamburg Reporter

The idea of ​​bringing a high school back to Hamburg still stands and a potential application for a charter high school was discussed at the July 19 Hamburg School Board meeting.

The Hamburg school had made previous visits to the State Board to visit about the high school plans in March 2019 and also in January and February of  2020.

The Iowa State Board declined Hamburg's requests at those meetings.  In February of 2020, after hearing from patrons, a student, superintendents from Hamburg and Sidney, and representatives of the Department of Education itself, the State Board entertained a motion and voted 9-0 against the return of the high school programming at Hamburg in what seemed to the be the Board’s final word on the subject. 

After a new law took effect on July 1 of this year, Hamburg School superintendent Mike Wells said he saw it as an opportunity for the community.

House File 813, effective July 1, expands Iowa’s charter school rules, allowing groups to set up schools by applying directly to the state.

Charter schools formed under the bill would be part of Iowa's public school system but would have more flexibility to offer different types of education.

Dr. Wells said, even though he disagrees with the new law, because he thinks it will hurt education overall in Iowa, in this particular case, for Hamburg, it is a great opportunity to give the community a high school.

Iowa will have two models of Charter school: a school board model and a founding group model. Hamburg will go with the school board-controlled charter school system. 

The charter school will be based on career and technical fields. Students can graduate from high school with a certification in a specific career and accelerate college years. 

“They will have a certification and, within two years, they will have a college degree,” said Wells. 

Regarding academic offering plans, Wells said they will probably share teachers with Essex School and will pair with Iowa Western Community College. 

Wells said the process for the application is tough and long. After the application is submitted, they will have a presentation with the State Board, and the decision will be made within 75 days from the hearing.

Hamburg will submit the application by October of 2021.

In other news, the school board also discussed a construction of a fitness center for school and community school.

The board agreed to looking into the proposal and  will start to access cost and funding options.