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Carmel Clay Schools wants people to weigh in on charter school proposal

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A public hearing for a new charter school in Hamilton County is set for Wednesday.

Parents, community members and schools can weigh in Wednesday on Valor Classical Academy, a proposed charter school. The hearing will be from 6-8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 251 Pennsylvania Parkway.

The proposed school is taking feedback ahead of wanting to open its new charter by fall 2023. The school’s organizers plan on welcoming K-6 grade students for the first day of school, and will add a grade each year until the school reaches K-12.

The charter school board has requested Grace College’s Grace School Charter Authority LLC to authorize their charter.

News 8 has reached out to the Valor Classical Academy board and Grace College, but they couldn’t be reached for comment.

Carmel Clay Schools leaders say they want people to come and hear what exactly is being proposed and what that would mean for the area.

Carmel Clay Superintendent Michael Beresford said, “We think it’s important for the community to know, but also for Hamilton County to know that a charter school is going to be starting here and that will divert their tax dollars to that charter school. Grace College is allowing for this public comment time which is actually, a part of Indiana code requires this meeting.”

He said having children leave Carmel Clay for a new charter would negatively impact enrollment.

“We’re the second lowest funded per student in the state where other districts in this county are funded at different levels. Grace College is allowing for this public comment time which is actually, a part of Indiana code requires this meeting,” Beresford said.

Valor Classical Academy wants to open at the Orchard Park Elementary School that Carmel Clay recently closed for instruction. The proposed charter is suing Carmel Clay for the building. Per the $1 law in the state, a school district has to give over empty buildings for charter organizers to buy or lease for just $1, but, Beresford said, the public school district is using the building for storage, and community trainings for other organizations. He says the district has future plans for the building.

“We actually checked with the (Indiana) attorney general’s office before all of this occurred and made sure that we were doing things correctly because the building is still in use,” DrBeresford said.

According to the attorney general’s website, Carmel Clay Schools are not in violation of the law. The inspections of the buildings by the attorney general’s office came after someone filed a complaint.

Public comment on the new charter can also be filed online until the end of the business day Friday.