A Waldorf-inspired charter school in Rohnert Park will apply for accreditation this spring, part of its plan to address concerns over lower-than-expected enrollment and its impact on the school's finances.
Credo High School, located on the former Richard Crane Elementary School site on Southwest Boulevard in Rohnert Park, will submit its application for accreditation in April, said Chip Romer, director of the school.
The lack of accreditation has hurt enrollment at the 2-year-old school, according to the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District, which is charged with providing oversight for the independent charter school.
"We still have grave concerns about the financial viability given the number of students they have enrolled," Cotati-Rohnert Park Superintendent Robert Haley said. "They have some significant issues to overcome."
The school opened in 2011 with 39 students, far short of the 100 expected during its inaugural year.
Eighty students — 45 freshman and 35 sophomores — currently are enrolled in the school's second year of operation.
As many as 60 students have expressed interest in enrolling as freshmen in the fall, Romer said.
The Waldorf curriculum promotes a low-technology approach to education that focuses on the arts and individualized curriculum in the early grades. At the high school level, the curriculum focuses on investigative projects as well as an emphasis on music, foreign language and throwback skills such as blacksmithing and black-and-white print-making.
So far, the school stands out academically. Credo students posted an 822 on the State Academic Performance Index last year, well above the goal of 800 out of 1,000.
Backers have said Credo could blossom into a school serving as many as 600 students, largely because the North Bay is home to seven Waldorf-inspired kindergarten through eighth grade campuses that graduate about 160 eighth graders every year.
But the slow early enrollment vexed backers and worried Cotati-Rohnert Park officials. It also hurt the school financially and put it behind schedule in the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation process.
The school cannot get its 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.
The school now expects to win accreditation by January 2014, Romer said. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges could decide to grant accreditation for a period of one to three years.
"It wouldn't be surprising to me if we get a one-year (accreditation). We will only be starting an 11th grade and they might want to come back and see how the 12th grade is going," he said.
District officials in December directed Credo to send a letter to current students explaining the accreditation process and what it means that the school has not yet achieved it. Without accreditation, credits accumulated at Credo may not be accepted by a different school should a student transfer.
"It's the prerogative of that school, whether to accept transfer credits until Credo is accredited," Romer said.
"We are doing this to make sure that you know any risks that you might be taking coming to a new school," Romer said. "I don't personally think there are risks, in my view of Credo."