The Corbett School District board approved the application to become a charter school district Wednesday.

District leaders have talked about becoming a charter for almost two years. Being a charter allows the district in eastern Multnomah County to bring in out-of-district students without requesting an inter-district transfer, which requires permission from the neighboring district.

A previous Oregon law allowed open enrollment for students, but that expired earlier this year.

With half of its students coming from neighboring districts, Corbett Superintendent Randy Trani had to find a way to keep bringing in out of district students – and the money that comes with them.

Now that the school board has approved the charter application, school leaders believe the district can remain financially viable by bringing in a limited number of out-of-district students. Corbett school leaders expect to have lower enrollment in the future. 

“What we offer at Corbett is a valuable experience for students, and I’m happy we can share it with Corbett kids and non-Corbett kids,” Trani said. 

Corbett will join 20 other Oregon school districts that have made the move to a charter. Most of the others are smaller and farther from large urban centers than Corbett.  

Almost everything will remain the same with Corbett as a charter district. The current school board will oversee the new charter school, behavior and discipline policies will remain the same, and the calendar won’t change.

Trani said there may be a name change for the school. According to the application, the name of the proposed school is Corbett District School.

“We should probably let the kids decide if the name should change or stay the same,” Trani said.

Now that the charter process is over, Trani said the school will move on to other tasks. 

“With that behind us, now we can move on to going for a bond,” Trani said.

Trani presented a plan that includes moving students out of the middle school sometime next year. The school has been a safety concern for the district for years. Trani isn’t sure where students will go, but a long-term plan for the district includes a bond, and fewer students. 

After several failed bonds, Corbett may attempt a small, 5-year bond next year to build trust in the community, Trani said.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Trani also presented new academic plans for the district.

It included a new career technical education (CTE) program and fewer required Advanced Placement courses.

In the past, some members of the community expressed concern that Corbett didn’t offer enough CTE courses for the rural district.

And Trani discussed reducing the number of required AP courses from six to four.

Trani said funds from the recent state law known as the Student Success Act will help Corbett build up its CTE programs while receiving state funding based on enrollment.