Charter School Opens in a National Park

  • Print

November 7, 2013 In 2009, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District voted to close Wawona Elementary School due to budget constraints. The small school campus served the mountain communities near Yosemite National park, and its closure left the students of Wawona and Fish Camp without a local school. However, because of the efforts of a group of committed teachers and community members, the school remained open as a satellite program operating under an agreement with a nearby charter school, Mountain Home Charter School.

Grateful for that partnership with the existing charter school, the Wawona school's leaders saw an opportunity to develop a charter school of their own. This new school would expand the current program and offer students from Wawona and Fish Camp new programs that would focus on the sciences by using the spectacular 'natural laboratory' of Yosemite National Park, just out their front door. Yosemite Wawona Charter School will draw on already established partnerships with US Forest Service, National Park Service, and others to offer authentic and career-ready learning opportunities for its students.

After months of drafting and creating, working with partner organizations and CCSA's School Development and Statewide Advocacy teams, the school founders submitted a charter petition to Bass Lake JUESD where it was met with support from district staff and the superintendent, ultimately winning approval by district trustees.

With a target opening of fall 2014, the Yosemite Wawona Charter School becomes the latest Central Valley charter school to carve innovative educational options out of a difficult landscape by building rock-solid partnerships with strong community, business, and government partners.