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Charter School Update by Dr. Shalee Cunningham

Information about an upcoming Board workshop and programs at the Hill Education Center.

At last week’s Board meeting, I gave an update to the Trustees on what we know about the proposed Charter school. At that meeting, I mentioned that the Board would be having a workshop in August or September. That workshop is now scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23, 5-7 pm, in Room 107 at the District Office, and the workshop will be focused procedures, protocols and policy. It is a public meeting.

I haven’t learned anything new since last week’s update.  What we know is that the submission of an application will most likely occur before Nov. 1, the deadline for a charter school application, and that there will be a request for space.

The Hill Education Center has been talked about as a possible facility and we currently have five vacant classrooms. The center is home to: 

  • Marin Oaks High School
  • NOVA Independent Study
  • Nexus
  • 180 Program
  • Mommy class
  • Adult Education (afternoons)
  • English as a Second Language class (evenings)
  • Computer class (evenings)
  • Healthy Novato has an office on campus
  • School Fuel has an office on campus

There are approximately 185 students during the day and 110 students in the afternoon/evening.

On the Superintendent’s Office webpage, we have added a folder called California Charter School Information.  In that is the information distributed to the Board at last week’s meeting. As more information becomes available, we will post it in this folder and in the applicable Board meeting packet. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Justin Hubbs August 23, 2012 at 09:56 PM
I've been called a lot of things in life but never elite :) Aren't you the least bit interested in how NUSD will take the concept from development to production? Where do we start? Where do we go and how do we know when we've arrived? I don't see how the neighborhood model promotes diversity without moving people from one school to another, yet some seem to be calling on folks to just shut-up and go to their neighborhood schools. Calling someone names won't help you avoid having to answer these hard questions. We can be victims and blame a group of people we don't know for our problems (ironically, similar to what racists do) or we can be leaders and begin to tackle them. I'm neither, but I like the idea of being a leader...so where do we start?
Tina McMillan August 23, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Zorba Any post that contains financial data and lacks links to the actual information could very well be incorrect. It is not my job to ask but to fact check whas was said. I can't find what Andrew has said anywhere online. If he posted a link then at least it would be possible to read the source.
Roger August 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Justin, I agree neighborhood schools alone don't give full diversity. Near San Ramon there is actually a neighborhood where the whites are moving out because it is mainly families from Asia and India and their kids make the whites feel dumb grade-wise and it is hard for the few white kids to make friends. Odd, yes?
Justin Hubbs August 24, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Roger, I tend to ignore anecdotal information like this. What is more interesting to me is the fact that a new charter would be open to the entire city, including all neighborhoods. So it least has a fighting chance of achieving diversity whereas PV, as far as I know, is a neighborhood school serving its own neighborhood.
Lebron Durant August 24, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Open to the entire city unless your name is Hernandez, Rodriguez, Sanchez etc. Jackson, Johnson, Jefferson and Washington also need not apply.
Justin Hubbs August 24, 2012 at 04:11 AM
What makes you so sure? What if you're wrong?
WOW August 24, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Do any of the men on these posts work? Maybe they all should get off their computers and get real jobs...oops, maybe they can't find a job because all the ELL students they've been so worried about educating are willing to work any job! Hey men, take a look in the mirror and get a clue. wow.
ex principal August 24, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Justin, Perhaps a greater understanding of the challenges the disadvantaged face would be more useful in the discussion. Simply saying "all are invited" is not the same as saying "all are enabled". NUSD does not have bussing, and transportation poses major challenges to anyone wanting to exercise "school choice". For example, a poor working mother of a first grader has little chance to exercise this "choice". Thus the segregation that results. Schools are more segregated today than they were 50 years ago, yet the "choice" movement was designed to counter exactly that. Zip codes were not supposed to determine ones educational opportunity, yet the same problem exists and some (non differentiated charter schools like CK) have become a mechanism to exacerbate that problem. As for where do we start? How about coming to the realization that our schools are not "failing"? There is no significantly greater number of kids moving into GATE from Rancho or PV than other schools. When they reach middle school, they stay in the same classes as the kids coming from "PI" schools. Teachers don't separate PV and Rancho kids. They receive the same high quality education as all the kids do. They score the same as their sub group counterparts at other schools. With that in mind, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, are you running TO something or FROM something?
Anne August 24, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Anyone know how the NUSD Charter School Workshop meeting went last night?
Patty Maher August 24, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The attorney shared a lot of information with the trustees (and the 20 or so members of the public). She walked the trustees through the relevant education code sections and highlighted the big issues regarding the review of a petition when it's received and responsibilities if the charter is approved. "Big" issues as in what falls on the district in terms of financial outlay, the impact of a charter on the bottom line money available to the district, and what the district's responsibilities would be if a Prop 39 request for facilities was made. Those relate to it being approved. But lots of time was also spent on what the charter must do in order to be approved. Achieving racial and ethnic balance that reflects the general population was discussed quite a bit. So was financial stability of a charter, how special education students would be educated (by the charter or the district), etc. You can find the handouts on the district's website. Look under the "August 23 board meeting" link. It's currently on the district's home page. If I were to write a "What New Information I Learned at the Meeting" paper, it would include that the magic number for triggering a Prop 39 facilities request is at least 80 in-district students have to be enrolled, that the petition with parent/guardian (or teacher) signature gets attached to the charter application, and that pretty much all review of the charter petition is done in open session.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 04:56 PM
It was interesting. There were approximately 20 residents, of whom two were district employees, watching the discussion. At the end all were allowed to ask questions. The district's attorney seemed to focus the discussion on ways to stop a petition rather than how to effectively implement one. This was of note given the boards ethical goal to debate controversial issues openly and fairly. Perhaps we will see more creative problem solving at later board meetings. Questions included the fact that a petition can only be stopped based on its merits. There were 5 areas about which this focused. Curriculum design, Measurable Goals & Objectives, Methods of Assessment, Rules of Governance and Teacher Credentialing. Another issue was the means by which the charter would enable racial and socioeconomic diversity in its population. And still another issue was Prop 39 which affects planning for facilities. The real litmus test will be the petition itself. Not much can happen at the board level without it. If this board rejects the petition it goes to the county and then to the state. The state can approve the petition even if the board attempts to reject it. It is part of the checks and balances built in to public charters. The best outcome would be to engage the board and the public in a willing dialogue.
ex principal August 24, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Another way to fight the ignorance behind "PI" is to understand what it means and does not mean. For example, Hamilton is in "PI", yet the white subgroup has a higher API score than PV. That school is not "failing", it is thriving. At Loma Verde, also in "PI" the economically disadvantaged students have the 3rd highest API scores among elem schools, they too are thriving. The white students at San Jose (916) score higher than Sinaloa(890), yet there is a stigma attached since they were in "PI". Parents also need to look deeper at schools and not listen to the rhetoric and rumors. Our schools are good, they can get better obviously, but the challlenge to educate is not just to our teachers and students, but to the community in which they thrive.
Educate the Community August 24, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Brilliant.
Educate the Community August 24, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Again, brilliant and perfect rebuttal to the PI debacle. So sick and tired of how the Rancho situation and now the misguided charter school initiative (not to mention the ridiculous PI system you so accurately debunk), seem to imply that all our neighborhood schools are somehow sub par. They are not. I again wish these folks would put the same amount of time and energy understanding the real situation and working to make our neighborhood schools even better.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM
So your only focus is the white subgroup that has the higher API score? The whole point of PI is to wrestle with the problems in the system that prevent ED and ELL students from succeeding academically in like ways. That is the focus of the Core Knowledge curriculum. The parents that are applying to the charters are looking deeply into the experience individual children are having in neighborhood schools. For some families the experience is a good fit. For others it has not worked. To push this off as if any family that leaves a neighborhood school is somehow betraying the district or ignorant of the facts is a huge mistake. You wont convince people of anything when you treat them this way. No one has said that our schools are bad or that they can't get better. What charter says is that a different curriculum can create a different experience.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM
You underestimate poor working mothers. Many would do anything to provide their children with the best possible education because they recognize that education is the way out of poverty. My father grew up in the great depression. His entire family was poor. He lived with his aunt and uncle, who both had emigrated from Poland. His aunt didn't speak a word of English and yet she got all seven kids to school every day and made certain they behaved, did their homework and were accountable to the school and to the family. Don't ever underestimate the power of a parent to make certain their children succeed in life where they have struggled. You make it seem as if the parents of ED and ELL children are incapable of promoting this success. I think you are largely mistaken. In a grass roots charter school with credentialed teachers who have given up jobs in traditional programs to be a part of a Core Knowledge curriculum school, which includes an extended day, an aftercare program with an educational component, and a curriculum that addresses inequities created by cultural differences, you have a combination that potentially improves the odds of all children attaining academic success. It wont matter what race, religion or socioeconomic demographic these children come from, they will all have the same opportunity to learn and grow. Neighborhood schools are good schools; this is just another public option.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Andrew I asked the board more about the money the Novato Waldorf Charter received to establish their campus. No one had a complete response but this is what I learned: There was a bond measure based on Prop39 which identified funds going to the charter as part of voting to pass the bond. When Novato voted the bonds in they voted to give the charter the money for their school.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Right No one should have to fear threats to safety to self an family however, you have posted some of the most inflammatory rhetoric I have ever seen on Patch, including your recent diatribe regarding abortion rights. I am not surprised that people get angry with you. I am sure people also get angry with me but I still do my best to say what I have to say in a reasonable manner. If you were to tone down the rhetoric (your comments to the person who self identified as a rape victim on Fenella's piece) then people would be more likely to listen without the outraged response.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Ed the Comm Charter is people understanding the real situation and working to make our public schools even better. That's the point. The reason the state wont let any community just dismiss charter is because they recognize fear can prevent innovation when people don't feel safe to stretch in new directions. The issue at the district level will be the MOU. The current MOU with NCS is reasonable and workable. If the district can do the same with NBEF then we will have an addition to our district that will help it grow and thrive. We may even be able to create several new magnet schools as well.
Mark Schoenbaum August 25, 2012 at 02:02 AM
But you do under your multitude of troll accounts.
Mark Schoenbaum August 25, 2012 at 02:03 AM
But you do under your multitude of troll accounts
Mark Schoenbaum August 25, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Jim, you easily exceed the posts by anyone with your multitude of troll accounts
Mark Schoenbaum August 25, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Hi Tina, Stop feeding the troll. Ed the Comm is JL is Jim L is Answerme is Bud Light is ... He gets his jollies by attacking you under multiple troll accounts instead of acting like a responsible member of the community who can express his opinions without hiding his identity. Responding to this loser's posts just makes his day.
Dexter Kaziff August 25, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Mark...do you have any ideas yourself or are you just the troll police?
Tina McMillan August 25, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Dex The trolling is discouraging. However, though I agree Jim L, JL, JLGrimes, Bud Light, and Sip the Suds are all the same person I think Answerme, Exprinciple and Educatethecommunity may be the same person or part of the same group. Their effort to shut down this discussion has persisted but it hasn't stopped folks from being interested in the charter.
Mark Schoenbaum August 25, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Dexter - Hi Bud Light!
conscience August 25, 2012 at 04:58 AM
nope wrong again Mark........then again, this issue is about supercilious self righteousness anyway, right? It still doesn't change the fact that Novato cannot afford a new campus to satisfy those that feel they are deserving. That would include the self-righteous. Shall we add you to the list Mark?
Mark Schoenbaum August 25, 2012 at 05:53 AM
sorry conscience, you are the only self righteous troll on this site. which explains why you hide behind your troll accounts. You canot accept others opinions and you are ashamed of your own.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) August 25, 2012 at 05:57 AM
People, people, people! Make your points with class, OK? I shall pass around chill pills all around and hit the re-set button here. Deep breaths.
Roger August 25, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Brent, thanks for stepping in to stop the rude personal attacks. It tends to scare posters away. You have deleted one person's posts several times for being rude. After the third deletion, I feel the Patch policy should be a ban for a month. Do Patches in other cities implement such a policy? It might take some software rework.

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