Following the passage of a new charter school law in the Wyoming legislature earlier this year, a new charter school is hoping to open in the city of Mills, and it's trying to gauge interest with an open house on Dec. 7.

The open house will be at the Mills Senior Center at 6 P.M.

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The free charter school will have an initial class size of 250, kindergarten through fifth grade, and if more than 250 apply the student population will be determined by lottery, and will be hiring around 17 staff and faculty.

Russel Donely, who is involved in starting the charter school, said the proposed school would be based off the Hillsdale-Barney school model, which he is a big fan of.

"They have almost no reading deficiencies coming out of their school...again you have very few that come out of these schools deficient in math...they teach American history, they're very strong in that, they're very strong in materials with things like reading and learning. They're a very good curriculum."

While they don't know for sure how popular the charter school will be, Donley said "anecdotally, we have found a great amount of interest."

Craig Horton, executive director of Academica, a company that helps starts charter schools, in Colorado and Wyoming, said they are working with Donely to help set up the charter school in Mills, and they plan to open in the fall of 2023.

Horton said he hopes that the different approach of the charter school, from a uniform to an emphasis on patriotism, will help attract parents.

"This is about offering a different model that some parents will be attracted to. It's the idea of a classical oriented education, schools that have determination to have strong discipline, to wear uniforms every day, to learn a prescribed set of curriculum. The school will be very patriotic. We're going to spend a lot of time going through the constitution and the declaration of independence."

The school will have a strict emphasis on discipline, which Horton said will help improve the learning environment for students.

"Bullying isn't tolerated in a school like this. All schools say that, but these kinds of schools mean it. When you remove class distinctions, things like clothing and apparel, then you start to equalize the learning environment, equalize the opportunity for having strict codes of discipline that are held to, for instance there are no cellphones in school, those kinds of things."

Sabrina Kemper, community development director for the city of Mills, said the charter school will likely lease from the city the former Mills elementary building, however the building will need to be cleaned up before it can be used again as a school.

Kemper said the city is currently evaluating what the cost will be to clean up broken windows and other acts of vandalism in the building.

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