Willow

Jesse Kelly, left, looks over Willow Public School’s social studies curriculum with Principal Sean Hopf on Thursday. Spanish teacher Nelly Pilares does the same with her new materials. This year sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at the charter middle school will be introduced to the International Baccalaureate program.

Willow Public School is set to open on schedule, according to the Washington State Charter School Commission.

The Walla Walla charter school will open at 8 a.m. Sept. 3, ready to serve a scratch-cooked breakfast to 80-some students.

Joshua Halsey, executive director of the commission, said Tuesday he and his board members agreed Willow officials still need to meet one of the several stipulations for opening the school set by the commission at the end of June.

In question is an agreement that by Aug. 1, Willow board members were to have designed a plan to monitor their legal compliance with the state’s charter school contract and make sure board meeting topics matched compliance components, Halsey said.

While Willow’s Superintendent Brenda McDonald believed that stipulation had been met, Halsey’s board disagreed this week and has asked Willow officials to add to the work they’ve already done toward the goal, he said.

McDonald said she and her team submitted documents on Aug. 22 intended to meet that stipulation and did not receive feedback from the commission saying those were inadequate.

She expected to speak with Halsey today to get clarification about what more is required, McDonald said.

Nonetheless, Halsey and McDonald agree that even with lower enrollment numbers than the commission asked for in June, the school will open.

The work McDonald and her teachers have done in the past few months has given him and his board the confidence that Willow can run a successful educational program and remain financially viable for the entire school year, with no danger of shutting down midyear, Halsey said.

McDonald said current enrollment numbers support the school’s operations.

“The point is, we don’t go into the red, and we have the students” to ensure that won’t happen, she said.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.