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Officials from Credo High School and the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District say a potential agreement on an action plan to remedy the school's financial and organizational woes could be reached in the coming days.

Credo High School, a Waldorf-inspired independent charter school now in its third year, was issued a notice of violation in June for what district officials called fiscal mismanagement and violations of the school's charter and state law.

But officials from both sides of the sometimes contentious debate over the school's future said this week that an agreement about how Credo should proceed appears imminent.

"I think that they recognized that we took their concerns very seriously," said Credo Director Chip Romer.

District officials long have contended that Credo's enrollment is dangerously below projections and that school spending has put the operation in perilous debt.

The debt of $397,000 reported in June has been reduced to $235,000, according to Romer. Credo parents are asked to contribute $200 a month for 12 months per student — a number backers say bridges the gap between what the state allocates per student and what the Waldorf-inspired high school curriculum requires.

Officials from Cotati-Rohnert Park, Sonoma County's third largest school district and the chartering authority for Credo, have complained that the school is pulling resources from the district and has failed to live up to promises laid out in the charter.

But this week, Superintendent Robert Haley said an agreement allowing Credo to continue appears imminent.

"They provided quite a bit of information, but the district still needs more time to evaluate some of the critical issues which revolve around their budget," he said. "We believe we are close to an agreement."

That is a far cry from where the two sides were just last June, when tensions ran high. Credo backers, who said district officials have not given their fledging school time to establish itself, said the district issuance of the violation notice threatened to scare off current and potential students.

But that does not appear to have happened.

Credo currently has 101 students in 9th, 10th and 11th grades. The number has grown steadily each year of operation, but remains well below expectations announced when the school was opened on the former Richard Crane Elementary School campus on Southwest Boulevard in Rohnert Park. At that time, Credo projected an eventual enrollment of 600 students.

Maria Martinez, newly installed president of the board of directors, said the economy has played a role in the school's slow start.

"The fact that we are a start-up school in a pretty tough economy, I know that has lent itself to making it hard," she said.

Backers say Credo offers a Waldorf-inspired curriculum in a public school setting and without private school tuition. There are seven Waldorf-inspired "feeder schools" in the North Bay that graduate about 160 eighth-graders every year, according to Credo officials.

It is that pipeline of students officials had hoped to tap into — something that has not materialized. Some families may be loath to commute and others may have students that opt for a more traditional high school experience, officials said.

Credo's curriculum emphasizes a low-technology approach and students are asked to infuse art into almost all aspects of learning.

Sophomores in Tiffany Roberts' oceanography class spent time Tuesday morning sketching an underwater scene before students eventually looked at phytoplankton under a microscope. In Eddie Guthman's "History through music" class, juniors drew musical instruments before being asked to identify snippets of Renaissance, madrigal and medieval musical styles.

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

"It's hard with four walls — so the pictures, the games, it's trying to get us out of the box and see the world as a more connected place," Roberts said.

"Students that get a more well-rounded education, they hold onto it. It's not just regurgitation for a test," she said.

Single science subjects — biology, chemistry, physics and earth science — are broken into quarters and students take one segment as a freshman, a follow-up as a sophomore and continue until they are seniors. That format suits students' developmental stages, Romer said.

Credo's most recently adjusted baseline score was 823 out of a possible 1,000 on the state Academic Performance Index. The state target is 800. Of Sonoma County's high schools, only Technology High in Rohnert Park and Maria Carrillo High in Santa Rosa scored higher.

Updated scores from the tests administered last spring are scheduled for statewide release Thursday.

"I really like the Waldorf system," junior Jake Bragonier of Sebastopol said. "Teachers have a really engaging way of teaching class. They bring students into the lesson. It keeps people from just zoning out, if you are engaged."

Key for Cotati-Rohnert Park district officials is the school's successful pursuit of accreditation. The school cannot get so-called A-through-G college preparatory curriculum approved by the state university systems without full accreditation. Completion of the A-through-G courses is necessary to apply to any California State University and University of California campus although waivers can be sought.

School officials submitted an accreditation application in April and an audit team is expected to visit the campus between the end of September and the end of December, Romer said.

"I expect by the end of January, we'll have some definitive status with them," he said.

Haley said he expects the school board to address Credo's action plan in the coming weeks.

"As a school district, we do believe in choice and options for students and families," he said. "We want to make sure those choices and options are of high quality and benefit students."

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.

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