Nature School Considered for Little Red
Could more project-based learning opportunities be coming to the Chippewa Valley? That’s the hope of a group of Eau Claire parents who have banded together to propose transforming the former Little Red Elementary School into Little Red Nature Campus, which would double as a middle school for up to 150 sixth- through eighth-graders and a nature campus that could be used by students from across the Eau Claire school district and beyond. The group, Initiative for New Directions in Education (inde-ec.org), made a presentation about the proposed public charter school to the Eau Claire school board on Dec. 18. According to their proposal, “Little Red Nature Campus aims to provide Eau Claire students with a learning environment that fosters independence, critical thinking, and creativity. Through innovative programming and connecting students with nature, we will nurture in students a love of learning, a sense of awe and wonder of the natural world, and a deep respect for self, others, and the environment.” The Initiative for New Directions in Education is seeking the endorsement of the school board, which could come as early as Jan. 8. If the board gives its OK, the group can move forward to apply for a startup grant from the state Department of Public Instruction. To do so, the group must get estimates for startup costs and funding sources, use district staff to help prepare the grant application, and do community outreach to advance the program, said Anna Rybicki, a parent and INDE team member. Rybicki added that her group was encouraged by the supportive responses they received from board members as a result of their presentation. If all necessary approvals are received and plans proceed as hoped, the school could open as soon as September 2019.