DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- UPDATE: The Dubuque School Board has voted to NOT renew the charter for Prescott Elementary.
A fourth grade class at Prescott Elementary School in Dubuque on Wednesday, January 3, 2018
The school will remain open, but will see changes. Full story here>/a>.
A Dubuque School Board committee is discussing the future of Iowa's only elementary charter school.
Prescott Elementary School is open to students anywhere in the district and doesn't have to follow the teaching methods of the rest of the district.
The school is in the downtown area of Dubuque on White Street.
The school received the state's lowest ranking in the recent education report card and like other schools with that ranking, the majority of its students come from low income households.
But students and their parents are pleased with the school and its curriculum.
Fourth grader Symon McDermott speaks highly of the school.
"This school is like maybe, probably one of the best schools in Iowa," he said during class.
He believes it's one of the best schools because it's a charter school.
He says he especially loves the hands-on learning and the projects they do in the community. His favorite trip was to a nursing home where he and his classmates read to the residents.
"We read to them, and like chit chat with them, and talk to them, and it’s really cool," he said.
His mom, Rachel McDermott, says she loves the hands-on experiences he gets.
"I think those types of experiences he's excited about. He comes home and he's so excited to tell me about those experiences," she said.
She also loves that the school is diverse.
"It was important for me to get him into an environment where he’s exposed to all the different cultures and you know differences that are out in there in the world," she explained.
Principal Vicki Sullivan says the school may go about their learning in a different way, but they still work towards the same outcomes as other elementary schools in the district.
"The methodology may differ but again like all the schools we're trying to get kids to the same outcome," Sullivan said.
Their methodology involves teaching in expeditions.
"Currently each grade level has three to four expeditions across a year's time, and that expedition has a compelling question that explores a topic in depth," Sullivan explained.
The school also emphasizes the arts.
Prescott did receive the score of "priority" from the Iowa Department of Education, but Sullivan says they're already working to improve it, and the charter is helping those efforts.
Sullivan says one way of improving that score is through a program they call "looping." Each students that starts at Prescott in kindergarten will also have that same teacher in first grade.
When a student moves to second grade, they'll get a new teacher, but that teacher will move with them to third grade.
"Those long term relationships are very important in helping kids to feel safe and secure and be able to engage in the learning," Sullivan said.
McDermott and Sullivan encourage the school board to renew the charter.
Symon says he's happy at his school.
"It makes me feel happy and good about myself," he said.
The school board will vote at their next meeting on Monday, January 8, 2018.