On April 15, 2016, the Minnesota Department of Education approved a kindergarten through sixth grade
charter school in Marine on St. Croix. The Marine Area Community School will open in the fall of 2017
and can enroll up to 175 students.
Charter schools are independent public schools. They offer unique educational programs and students
can expect high quality education based on results. Charter schools employ licensed teachers and do not
Key themes of the Marine Area Community School include the environment, arts, history and civic
involvement. The model will rely on teacher expertise to select and implement curriculum, as well as
assess overall effectiveness. The foundational curriculum will align with Stillwater Area Public Schools to
allow a smooth transition to middle school while integrating community assets.
“We are very excited about the approval. For the past 161 years, the community has supported a school
in Marine. We will have local control over decisions and be able to more fully embrace our community
resources,” stated Lisa White, founding member of the charter.
As a non-district public school, charter schools benefit from state general education funding but cannot
levy or bond for taxes. Similar to a district school, an elected board will make decisions on behalf of the
“Although the Marine Area Community School is technically separate from Stillwater Area Public
Schools, we hope the district collaborates with us so that our families will feel as if they are Ponies. We
continue to be in conversation with their administration and are committed to partnership,” stated
Kristina Smitten, founding member of the charter.
Founding team members include Jon Dettmann, Lisa Dochniak, Mayor Glen Mills, Kristina Smitten and
Lisa White. The authorizer for the Marine Area Community School is the Minnesota Guild.
A community meeting will be held in May to provide more information and identify areas where the
community can participate in shaping the new school and contribute to its success.