School district looks to reopen Credence; draw back students

Lassen Union High School District is planning to reopen Credence High School, the district’s continuation school, by the 2020/2021 school year.

With what board member Jarrett Ellena joked as the Credence Clearwater Revival (referencing the nearby Susan River, roll with it), the continuation school down on the corner might soon again offer students a different option. School administrators are hoping the reopening might draw in some of the students lost to charter schools.

The Lassen Union High School District Board of Trustees voted in favor of reopening Credence at the school site on Cottage Street during the Tuesday, Dec. 17 meeting; however, trustee Skip Jones requested parameters for the program come back before the board for review.

“After Credence ended up closing, we ended up seeing more and more students who ended up leaving,” said superintendent/principal Morgan Nugent. “We also saw the explosions of the charter schools with it, as well. I do believe that we have to take a look at how we go about moving forward. The traditional high school setting is not always targeting (some) of our students’ needs.”

Nugent noted the district is looking at having a limited staff and having the ability to support 45 to 60 students.

He said, stemming from discussions, the district expects to see students returning to LUHSD, but did say they expect to lose some students from LHS to Credence.

According to Chief Business Officer Cori Shields, the roughly estimated annual cost of Credence is about $200,000; however, at this time, the exact cost is unknown.

Currently, the district is already paying about $22,000 a year for basic utilities to keep the facility open.

There is also the potential for some LHS teachers to cover periods at Credence, limiting new costs.

“This may not be an additional cost for us; this would just be the cost of the program,” said Shields.

Meeting attendees further discussed the need for the program, stating parents have been seeking a structured school setting that’s still flexible.

Counseling Administrative Assistant Shanda Hooven noted parents have been calling asking for a program like this.

Assistant Principal Joshua Blackburn noted this may also help with retention numbers, keeping students in the district.

Trustees mentioned the program may start with some negative years, but Michelle Zubillaga noted, if the program exceeds expectations, bringing in enough students, it could cover the cost of the program, as well as bring in additional funding.

Deanna Stampfli Ross, who started working at Credence, noted the school helped students who just feel more comfortable in the smaller atmosphere, teenage mother and others. She also brought up that the program helped teach students needed life skills.

Jones brought up the Lassen Virtual Academy, noting the projections for that were higher than actual involvement and shared his caution with giving the green light now without much information.

“I’m all for it. I’m just not sure we have a structure, curriculum or clear path forward on this,” said Jones.

Blackburn noted Lassen Virtual Academy is more rigorous than a charter school, and offers the draw of flexibility some are after and the mix of a blended schedule.

However, he noted the school has lost some students as some parents want a more structured setting and seat time.

“The amount of parents that truly would want their kids to have that flexible seat time I think is significant,” said Blackburn.

The board approved the reopening of Credence High School during its Tuesday meeting.

“Credence provides an opportunity for our kids,” Nugent said.