Students won't be the only ones sweating their report card at the end of every year at Crosswalk: If the charter school gets a bad report card, it'll be shut down.


That tighter leash is actually a new lease on life for Crosswalk, which had its request for a renewal of its charter rejected at the May 4 Hesperia Unified School District school board meeting. Monday night, the board voted to approve a revised charter, with new requirements added to it.


The eight-year-old school teaches 100 students, most of who do not live within the Hesperia Unified School District, and has always been financially stable, according to the school's director, Chala Salisbury.


Instead, the HUSD's concerns were academic.


"Crosswalk has critical deficiencies in its academic program and operations and failed to demonstrate academic performance accountability," a May 29 letter from Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Jovy Yankaskas to Salisbury reads in part.


The letter goes on to criticize the school's curriculum as "undeveloped," its test scores as "below proficiency" and Yankaskas writes that the school is not fully following the federal No Child Left Behind requirements.


The board heard from Crosswalk board members, teachers and parents of students and saw a video with students praising the school's small size and its work with handicapped students.


"To us, success is when a fourth grade child comes to us at a first grade reading level ... and for that student to finish the grade level, having gained two reading levels," sixth grade teacher Rhonda Dennis said. "We cannot, as a community, allow any students to fall through the cracks, as so many have."


Following the May 4 non-renewal, Crosswalk reconfigured the school, splitting what was one charter into two. School officials proposed having the Crosswalk charter just covering grades 9 through 12, and moving the lower levels into the existing Pathways to College elementary school charter, which is up for renewal in 2011.


"They have met their [state] API scores three of the last four years," said board member Robert Kirk, who made the motion to approve the charters, with the addition of the new benchmarks. "I think we all understand that there's work to be done, but there's potential here."


If the grades 9-12 incarnation of Crosswalk does not meet its new benchmarks -- to be determined later -- it will close at the end of the given school year, instead of having to come back to the board for further review.


"I'm kind of confused on how anyone could vote on this" until the benchmarks are established, said board member Chris Bentley, "But a body's going to do what a body's going to do."


The body in question voted in favor of the new revised petition 4-1, with only Bentley voting against it.


The next meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on June 22, 2009, at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.