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Charter school in Orange offering college classes wins approval

A charter school focused on preparing at-risk kids for college will open in Orange after winning approval from the county Board of Education.

“We’re excited and ready to move forward,” said Erin Craig, executive director of the school. “We’re looking forward to securing everything from the facility to continuing work in the community and working with students so we can prepare to open day one.”

Unity Middle College High School aims to open by summer and will follow the Middle College National Consortium model, which partners with local colleges to provide courses to high school students.

In addition to providing high school-level and community college courses, Unity will allow each student to choose a career pathway, such as business, arts or science, technology, engineering and math.

Unity is working with Santiago Canyon College to provide the courses, Craig said, but has not finalized a deal.

“It’s optimal for Middle College high schools to have a strong relationship with college partners,” Craig said. “Unity Middle College High School is thrilled with the willingness from Santiago Canyon College to work with us and support our students because our students are their students as well.”

The school appealed to the county board after two votes by the Orange Unified School District board. In the first vote, the Orange Unified board voted 5-2 to conditionally approved the charter provided changes were made. After the changes, the Orange board voted 3-2 in favor, with two members absent, but the school needed a majority of the seven board members to be approved. At that point, time had elapsed under state law for getting district approval.

Orange board members who supported the school said the Middle College model is effective, while those who opposed said they worried about issues in the charter such as budget and governance.

The county approval also came with conditions that changes be made to the charter, including the description of the educational program, school governance and budget. After the changes are made, there will need to be a memorandum of understanding, but the county board will not need to take a second vote.

As a charter school, Unity will receive public funding. The school has budgeted for $1 million in revenue for its first year, Craig said, with that increasing to $3 million by the third year. Unity plans to fundraise for its start-up costs, estimated to be at least $320,000.

Enrollment will start with 100 ninth-grade students, with a grade being added each year for a total of 400 students.

The school, which has not bought a property yet, plans to open its doors in June for a summer transitional program for its incoming students.

“Facilities and fundraising,” Craig said, “right now are our biggest foci.”

Source: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/school-679086-college-students.html

Date: Aug. 25, 2015

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Students are dismissed March 16 - April 12

As things continue to evolve and change at the state and local level, we can now confirm that Unity will remain closed through Spring Break, through April 12, 2020. Based on the governor’s press conference earlier this week, we are preparing for a longer closure and will keep families updated as this unfolds.

Today
● Ms. Nieblas and Ms. Limon are reaching out to each Unity family by phone TODAY to verify they are receiving our messages, their child has access to internet, learning, and food as well as to help families troubleshoot any areas needed.

Today through April 3, 2020 - School Closed
● Through April 3rd, Unity students have the opportunity to revise, improve, and resubmit any past assignments they did not receive full credit on. This will ensure students can build on their previous knowledge rather than try to learn new content on their own.
● Teachers have already reached out to your student through Google Classroom.
● Family teachers will also communicate and check in on your students each week.
● On Friday April 3, 2020 families will receive the School wide Unity Distance Education Plan for instruction and special education service implementation for the coming weeks.
● If you have questions as it relates to your child accessing learning please reach out directly to Ms. Seth by email at rseth@unitymchs.org or by telephone at 313-509-8689

April 4, 2020 - April 12, 2020 - Spring Break
● Our school and office are closed and teachers/staff will be on break.
● If you need urgent assistance during this time please email Dr. Craig ecraig@unitymchs.org AND Ms. Seth rseth@unitymchs.org.

April 13, 2020 - Online Distance Education and Special Education Services Begin
● The Schoolwide Distance Education Plan including special education services provided will be emailed to our Unity families and students before Spring Break and begin on Monday April 13, 2020.
● This plan will include details about how students will learn, communicate with their teachers, submit assignments, and most importantly get the help they need.

Students with Disabilities
● Our goal is to continue to provide each student with equity and access through innovation for their education and services during this time.
● Between now and April 3rd, Mr. Casperson and Mr. Trulin will continue to reach out to our students with disabilities to provide them with service and support on their past assignments and any past work.
● Unity is currently working with their special education service providers to develop a plan for “remote services”. This plan will be communicated to families on or before April 3, 2020 and will begin on April 13, 2020.
● If you have any questions in the meantime, please reach out to Mr. Casperson and Ms. Seth.

School Events Including Spring Picnic
● All school events until the end of April have been canceled (to be rescheduled).
● As things continue to change, we will keep you updated on events in May and June.
● Students, please practice social distancing even though hanging out with your friends is more fun.
● We do not have answers about Graduation 2020 and activities yet, so please be patient with us. As soon as we receive more information from the state and county, we will share that information with you. We can’t wait to celebrate your success!
● Our goal is to celebrate the graduating class of 2020, we ultimately want to make sure everyone is safe.

Students Taking College at SCC
● Students should now be working online for their SCC classes and should check their emails and Canvas for further information from SCC and individual professors.
● Students who need support with wifi should contact Ms. Seth.
● Ms. Seth will still be doing college grade checks every other week with students via email. Student Meals Each School Day
● Throughout the closure on school days each week, Unity students can go to the Orange United
Schools listed below for:
○ Grab-N-Go Breakfast from 8 am to 10 am &
○ Grab-N-Go Lunch 10 am to noon
● Locations serving food are:
○ Handy, California, Esplanade, Taft, Yorba, & Lampson Elementary Schools
○ Portola Middle School
○ Orange HS, El Modena HS, & Canyon HS. (served out of snack bars, not in the cafeteria or multipurpose rooms, to prevent students gathering)

● Students are not allowed to stay on campus or congregate to consume meals and must be present to pick up food. We are in this together as a Unity family, and we will get through this. Thank you for your responsiveness, support, and ongoing communication. As always, please reach out to us and let us know what you and your family need. Stay safe and take care of your loved ones.