Nasha Shkola, the new Russian/English Charter School Approved!!!
Interview with Gedaly Meerovich, the Founding Board’s Chairman.
The Minnesota Department of Education announced on January 23rd that the application from Nasha Shkola submitted by their authorizer, Innovative Quality Solutions (IQS), has been approved by MN Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius.The school will open in the fall of 2012.Nasha Shkola’s founding board, headed by Gedaly Meerovich, has been working with the Russian-speaking community for over four years to get this approval.The entire board is ecstatic about finally achieving this major milestone of the charter approval process.Mr. Meerovich, a well-known individual in the community, has worked tirelessly in leading the entire process.I asked Gedaly several questions about this new school and what educational opportunities it will provide to the Russian speaking as well as the English speaking community in the metropolitan area.
Q. What is a charter school?
In Minnesota, charter schools are tuition free, independent public schools that are open to and welcome
all students and are governed and operated jointly by licensed teachers, parents and community
members. In the case of Nasha Shkola, parents will be able to choose to enroll their children in a
school with a rigorous curriculum that has a strong discipline policy, Russian speaking staff and the cost
Q. What does “tuition free” mean?
The state of Minnesota and Federal grants pay all operating and transportation cost for educating the
children enrolled. The parents have no financial obligation except for normal school supplies for their
children. As in regular public schools, if families qualify, children will eat breakfast and lunch free or at a
Q. What does it mean to be an independent public school?
This term indicates that a board of directors makes all decisions about the operation of the school. The
school must follow all state and federal rules and regulations and report their progress to the state.
Q. What does it mean when Nasha Shkola says that they are open to and welcome all students
(first come first served)?
Nasha Shkola must market its school to the entire community – both the Russian-speaking and the rest
of the community of non-Russian and non-Russian speaking communities within five - ten miles of the
school. Once this marketing has been started, the school will take any student that is qualified to attend
a public school in MN. The school cannot select students to attend based on ethnicity, language, ability,
committee, or testing. The school must accept students on first come basis, until the grade levels are full.
The MN statutes have a special “Lottery Selection Process” that must be used if the school has too many
students in a grade level by a predetermined date.
Q. What does governed and operated jointly by licensed teachers, parents and community
Minnesota law specifies the makeup of the Board of Directors of the school. It must have members
from each of the previous groups of adults working with the school. All board members must complete
criminal background checks, sign a code of conduct and a conflict of interest document before they can
serve on the board. Collectively the board is responsible for the success of the school, including all
hiring, financial resources, and operations of the school. Individuals are not personally liable for finances
of the school and the school will have liability insurance to protect all board members.
Q. How will the children that attend Nasha Shkola get to school?
The school plans to contract with a bus company to transport all students to the school (wherever it
locates). The school plans to develop safe community pickup and drop-off locations in the Minneapolis
and West-Metro areas. The proposal is that the families would transport their children to these “Safe
Places” to wait for the buses to pick up large numbers of students at one time. This plan is in the
developmental phase and the school desires input from parents on the process.
Q. What grade levels will Nasha Shkola serve?
Nasha Shkola’s charter specifies that it will be a Kindergarten through 12th grade school. The school
will open in the fall of 2012 with kindergarten through 5th grade. Kindergarten will be all-day everyday
program. Class sizes will be approximately 24 students per class. The school intends to add one grade
level each year until it is a K-12 school with nearly 600 students.
Q. What are the job opportunities available at the school?
The Board of Directors is in the process of developing a full list of all positions at the school and the job
requirements for each job. The school will be using only appropriately MN licensed and highly qualified
elementary teachers; a highly qualified director, Russian/English bilingual educational assistants, office
staff, operational staff; and various consultants and companies to support all operations of the school.
Specific positions and qualifications will be specified on the school’s website – nashashkolamn.org. The
school will need several community volunteers, mentors and board and committee members as the
school begins its start-up operations.
Q. Where is the school going to be located?
The board has currently contracted with two local real estate agents to assist with this process. The
school is researching all available facilities in Hennepin County and close surrounding areas. This is the
number one priority for the board, as it affects all other recruiting, marketing and operational aspects of
starting a new school. Watch for a news flash with this information.
Q. Where and how do we register our children?
In late February and early March Nasha Shkola will begin a comprehensive marketing campaign,
including mailings, advertising, community meetings, personal contacts, registration packets and
community outreach activities. After we have a Start-up Coordinator and Marketing/Outreach employees,
we will publish all contact information and processes for registering your children and your neighbor’s and
friend’s children. In the meantime, spread the word about our school.
Q. What is your Web address?
Nasha Shkola is seeking to help expand and improve our website, email addresses, technology and other
marketing services for the school. The updating of our current website is a high priority for the school.
Q. What are your greatest needs for Nasha Shkola’s start-up and success?
• We need 250 students.
• We need a highly qualified and dedicated staff.
• We need active, caring and involved board members.
• We need a facility to house our school.
• We need parents and community members to get involved.
• We need school desks, teacher desks, technology equipment, an attorney, and volunteers.
• We need donations to the school including monetary, art work, cultural objects, and any materials
or supplies to assist in the school start-up and operation.
Q. Why do you think that Nasha Shkola will be better than average public school?
The founding board believes that our school with its vision and mission, highly qualified staff and board,
the Russian philosophy of high rigor, no nonsense, community and parental support, longer school
day and school year will result in Nasha Shkola being one of the highest performing schools in the
Q. Who are the Founding Board members for Nasha Shkola?
The founders, as listed in our application, were Gedaly Meerovich, Kirsten Kinzler, Karissa Baker, Mark
Stipakov, Eugene Blazhnov, Ron Kelner, and Oksana Cox.
Q. Who do we contact today if we have questions or want to help?
Gedaly Meerovich indicated that he will serve as the temporary contact for the school until they hire a
and by phone at 651.690.2395 or cell at 612.801.6682.