Students from The Learning Academy charter school show off the land for their future permanent campus.
Back row: Emelynne Lawrence, Amber Williams, Macayla Bybee, Tristin Gubler. Front row: Cora, Jed & McKenzie Rajala.
Julie Krch photo

The Learning Bridge Charter School is moving, but not just yet. The Learning Bridge has only been open since 2013 and they have been growing so fast that plans are quickly moving forward to open up a new school at East 13th St., South of Avenue M.

Julie and Warren Krch, founders of the school said that The Learning Bridge has always known it would be best to have their own building. They have been renting the facility from the Shoshone Tribe.

Julie Krch said, “This was a wonderful way to begin our educational journey in White Pine County and the thought of a new building has always been a part of our 5-10 year plan.”

The school opened in 2013, a group of educators and community members from all walks of life set a goal to open a charter school in White Pine County. with grade levels kindergarten through sixth grade. In 2014, seventh grade level was added to the schools curriculum, and by 2015 eighth grade was added to the school curriculum.

The school knows all too well about the rollercoaster of getting approval.  The process for this school began back in 2011, and was an extremely difficult process from the possibilities of being housed in different locations such as the armory, to leasing a White Pine County building.

Finally, in April of 2013 they began the process of leasing and updgrading the old BLM/Alta Gold building on Great Basin Boulevard.

They were quoted $75,000 but by the time the school opened in September the cost had skyrocketed to $340,000. The project was financed by investors and private donations. After several setbacks and roadblocks, the school opened on Sept. 9, 2013.

The school had to demonstrate academic and financial success in order to become eligible for such a request to the State Public Charter School Authority Board (SPCSAB). The school had to have a least a three-star rating,  and three years of excellent financial audits.

In July of 2016, The Learning Bridge board voted to go forward with the dream of having their own site. After state testing scores came back and they secured their financial audit from 2017, a committee was formed to write the amendment to the  charter.

Matt Rajala organized the material and formulated the amendment. Krch said Rajala was instrumental in having the amendment approved. Warren and Julie Krch, Kristy Sedlacek, Leslie Derbidge, Hilary Giles and members of the Parent Teacher Community Organization and staff added information.

In October 2017, the amendment was submitted to State Public Charter School Authority Board. Learning Bridge was placed on the Jan. 26 agenda. Sedlacek, Warren and Julie Krch and Dale and Linda Derbidge attended the SPCSAB meeting. The board was very pleased with the state testing outcome and the school’s  financial stability.

A few questions were asked and the SPCSAB unanimously voted to allow The Learning Bridge to continue with their plans to build a new facility. Krch said, “We have to give a huge thanks to Dale and Linda Derbidge who have donated a portion of the land for the new location.”

The facility will include a gym, classrooms, offices and any support rooms necessary. The school will continue as a K-8 program with 20 students per classroom.  They do not have any plans to enlarge or expand the current grade levels.

The Learning Bridge receives the same funding from state and local resources as the District school. Distributive School Account funding (DSA).

Linda Derbirdge, who along with Dale have been instrumental with securing approval for the new school, said, “Dale and I were very excited when we first heard years ago about Julie and Warren Krch’s work to open a charter school in Ely.”

The Learning Bridge will stay at its current location until June of 2020.  They plan on being in the new facility for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. The school currently has 180 students enrolled.

“School choice makes a remarkable difference in a community. We saw it when our children were attending Sacred Heart School and can see it now with Learning Bridge,” Linda Derbidge said.