Middle, high school join forces as new charter district


Kelli Taylor

Independence Charter Middle School and Harding Charter Preparatory High School recently joined forces to become the Harding Independence Charter District.

Delnaz Kazemi and Emma Attig, Reporters

Harding Charter Preparatory High School and Independence Charter Middle School officially conjoined this past summer to form Harding Independence Charter District. Most students are left in the unknown of knowing if this district change will affect their everyday school experience and school policies.

Steven Stefanick, who is the former principal of Harding Charter Preparatory High School, is now the Superintendent of the newly-formed district, said that the only “big” change for HCP students will be that they won’t see him in the high school building all day, every day.

“I’m not really going to be around in the classrooms as much as I used to be, or  in the hallway fixing lights,” Stefanick said.

He further explained that students at HCP shouldn’t expect to see a change bigger than that. The student body is likely used to the leadership of Head Principal Joe Hughes, who until recently held the role of Assistant Principal. Hughes has been at Harding for 12 years, which ensures that him moving up into the head principal role won’t be an enormous change for the student body.

As far as the change for teachers, HCP teacher Kelli Taylor, who is a member of the new Superintendent’s Leadership Team, said that she has seen no major impact as a teacher. She also said that the schools have participated in combined professional development.

“It was good,” Taylor said. “It was all about culturally-relevant teaching, which is always beneficial. But the day-to-day hasn’t really changed.”

Taylor’s involvement in the HICD leadership committee is just starting. Currently, the committee has just had a few meetings. Stefanick said he has the power to make executive decisions, but ethical leaders don’t make all decisions on their own.

“Even though I have the authority to make changes outside of the board, some things have to be board approved, that’s not a good leadership style to just be sort of a dictator,” Stefanick said. This is why HICD relies on the governance board in addition to the new leadership committee.

The committee is currently working on aligning the curricula of the two schools. As a district, the staff wants to create a seamless transition for the students from middle to high school, and for the transition of HCP  students to a college or any career outside of college to feel equally seamless.

Another possibility in the near future for the leadership committee is merging the sports and extracurriculars at both of the schools in. Not all things will be available at both schools.

“That’s going to take time, because what we really have to see is if every program at Harding is necessary at a middle school?” Stefanick said.

While the changes at the moment are mostly on the administrative side of things, students at both schools will likely reap benefits from the schools combining forces in the future.