Charter Schools


The Rim country currently has three charter schools: The Shelby School, Payson Head Start, and the Payson Center for Success.

The charter school concept was developed to provide an alternative to public schools. According to the Center for Education Reform, a Washington D.C.-based research organization, charter schools are a diverse group of independent public schools that are allowed "to operate freed from the traditional bureaucratic and regulatory red tape that hog-ties public schools."

The charter school movement began in the early 1990s, with Arizona passing the strongest of the nation's charter laws in 1994 allowing almost any reasonably serious person to start a school and receive a little more than $4,000 in state funds for every student enrolled.

Since that time, charters have attracted roughly 3 percent of the state's public school population, and the number is still rising by 10,000 annually. Arizona, with one-fiftieth of the nation's population, has about one-third of its 780 charter schools or twice as many charters as California, which has eight times as many children under age 18.


Lynn Winans
Site Manager

Payson Head Start is a federally funded preschool and family referral program for lower income families and children with disabilities a program that has impacted the lives of children and families for the past 35 years.

It is our vision to develop an understanding within the community of the need to support families in becoming stronger family units, which in turn will build stronger communities.

Currently, we provide services to 17 families.

Our goal for the 2002-2003 program year is to continue the quality services that we provide, advocate for families in need and children with disabilities, and increase awareness within the community.

We serve 3- to 5-year-old children and provide a developmentally appropriate preschool program; two nutritional meals per day; complete health screenings with assistance in follow-up for each enrolled child; specialized services for children with disabilities; opportunities for families to volunteer in the program and assist with menu and lesson planning; and monthly parent meetings with workshops and training.

We also establish and work with families toward individual goal planning, and we have a supportive staff dedicated to providing quality services.

The mission of our agency is to provide accessible and comprehensive early-childhood programs which support children up to the age of eight for life experiences; and promote family literacy programs for the development of self-sufficiency and healthy families.

Head Start strives to be recognized as a quality, comprehensive program with diverse knowledge and skills in program planning and service delivery.


Steven Rensch

The Shelby School is a K-9 school located in Tonto Village and currently serving 709 students an increase of 32 percent since the granting of its charter in June 2000.

Next year, the Shelby School will add a 10th grade, and hopes to become K-12 by the 2004-05 school year.

Shelby has kept up with this growth by adding three classrooms this year, and by purchasing a new modular unit that will be in place by June, adding an additional four classrooms. Despite this growth, Shelby has managed to maintain a student-to-teacher ratio of approximately 6:1.

After participating in several national championships, the Shelby chess team is now rebuilding, and chess has been integrated into the school's general curriculum.

The Shelby basketball team the Iguanas continues to excel against much larger schools, finishing this year with a 17-6 record.

Several students have moved into advanced work in music and dance, and others are taking college courses as early as their sophomore year.

The Shelby philosophy has and will not change, regardless of the school's growth and success.

We have no desire to produce intellectually gifted students who are emotionally at odds with their lives. We seek to develop well-balanced, expressive and compassionate young people who have a strong sense of the particular purpose in their lives and the confidence that achievement of that purpose is their birthright.

In furtherance of that philosophy, we maintain a close connection with the families of our students, keep our classes small, encourage frequent communication among our students, and generally view the family with all its inefficiencies as our model.


Monica Nitzsche

The faint clicking sound repeats itself as fingers deftly navigate the computer keys in this one-room schoolhouse. The feeling is that of quiet, industrious thought. There is a sense that one has walked into a place of business, rather than a school. Education is obviously valued by the young people working so diligently.

Welcome to our world welcome to success.

It has been six years since Payson Center for Success High School opened as a charter school within the Payson Unified School District education system. The mission of the school has been clearly defined as an institution to provide high school students, ages 16 to 21, the opportunity to complete diploma requirements "in cooperation with local entities in the community ... to promote academic proficiency, career training and work skills."

PCS is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Payson Center for Success High School takes pride in the fact that instructional technology is used as the curriculum delivery source. Each student has their own assigned computer at PCS. The technology system was significantly upgraded this year and the curriculum was enhanced in the core areas of English, Reading, Social Studies, Math and Science. The class options for becoming proficient with computers and software products were increased. A continuing goal is to introduce new technology and skills throughout the curriculum to better prepare PCS students for the digital age.

Students were busy the week after the 9/11 tragedy collecting supplies to send to firefighters and organizing an extremely successful car wash.

Other projects included an "Adopt a Family" Christmas activity; working with elementary students; shelving books at the new library; collecting household items for a family who lost their home to fire; and providing monetary support to a child with leukemia and another with liver disease.

Payson Center for Success received a congratulatory letter in January from the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools recognizing the school for "ranking in the top 35 schools for 'Quality of Education' as reported in the Third Annual Arizona Charter School Parent Satisfaction Survey." The survey included data from 229 elementary, middle and high schools.

When the data was analyzed specific to charter high schools outside Maricopa County, Payson Center for Success was rated second. The survey inquired about parent satisfaction with the charter schools their children attend, and what grades parents would give their schools.

Twenty-six young hopefuls are expecting to complete requirements and earn a diploma May 24, 2002. Each year, PCS has seen the number of graduates increase, yet the enrollment base remained relatively consistent at 50-55 students.

As the PCS population becomes more stable, we are witnessing a greater depth of learning and commitment from the students. We are forging a strong relationship with Eastern Arizona College to encourage PCS students to make a seamless transition to post high-school education.

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