The only school in Wallowa County that has filed paperwork to operate as a public charter school, Joseph District #6 is launching its third year under that designation and superintendent Rhonda Shirley says it is working favorably.

“The charter school designation gives us more flexibility in many areas and gives us greater opportunities to qualify for grants,” she says. Shirley adds her opinion that more and more schools will follow the public charter school trend in the future.

A peripheral goal in harmony with the public charter school designation, says Shirley, is to provide Joseph students with better access to technology.

Joseph will have about 220 students enrolled grades K-12 next year, plus nine additional students accessing basically the same system in Imnaha, says Shirley.

Although she reports no mainstream classroom teacher turnover, the superintendent does add that there will be some changes in staff when school opens Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Betty Belcher, a Title 1 and special education instructor at Joseph for more than 20 years will retire, as will Sherry Strickland, a middle school and high school aide in the Joseph system since 1992.

Shirley says Emily Wyffels, to be hired by the Wallowa County Education Service District, will begin working as a special education instructor next month

At the Imnaha school an aide position to assist teacher Shari Warnock will be split between Myrn Moore and Katia Stein.

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