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Update on School Board's Workshop on Charter Schools

Dr. Shalee Cunningham provides some insight after the Aug. 23 NUSD board workshop.

We had a good board workshop last night with our charter school attorney, Margaret Merchat. She walked the board through the details of the Education Code related to the procedures for a group to file a charter school application, the policies related to charter school oversight, and the protocol once an application has been received. Much has changed in the Education Code since approved the 10 years ago.

There are 16 criteria an applicant must meet before the school board can approve the charter school application. Facilities will certainly be an issue, as we are full at all of our school sites and only have a few classrooms available at the Hill Education Center. Margaret did say that charter schools often lease space away from a school site.

In 2003, the Novato Charter School received $840,047 from Novato Unified for its facilities, representing 50 percent of the total construction dollars of $1,680,094.  Half of the construction cost was given because only 50 percent of the total average daily attendance revenue of the Novato Charter program represented in-district students.

Staffing will be another issue. If students leave NUSD for a charter school, there will be fewer students and, thus, fewer teachers. Teachers will be receiving layoff notices by March 15 to address the decline in enrollment. Teachers will have to make a commitment in the early spring if they intend to leave.

It was interesting to hear that the charter school must have a student population that resembles the demographics of our community. Our 2010 census showed that our Novato community was 21 percent Latino at that time; I suspect it has increased over the past couple of years because our schools were 33 percent Latino last year.

There were good questions about staff benefits like retirement and health benefits, and whether or not the charter school would opt to participate in those benefits. We really won’t know anything until we get the application, but it raised a lot of questions about our current charter. It also raised many good questions about the budget, revenue and expenditures for a charter school and how they must follow the same rules and procedures we do. We provide financial oversight to our current charter, and would be expected to do the same if a new charter came to Novato.

At this point, our school year is off and running with 7,961 students, and we are very excited about the focus on technology, student achievement and wellness this year!

— Shalee Cunningham, NUSD Superintendent

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Tina McMillan September 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM
http://www.nusd.org/pages/Novato_Unified_School_District/Our_Schools/departments/5860595878546589170 Here is the link to the NUSD page that describes GATE and that has additional links attached.
Novato Unified School District September 24, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I want to respond to the concerns about the event involving a kindergartner leaving campus and walking home. It was a very unfortunate incident, and additional multiple safety measures have been implemented to safeguard students. I am confident these additional procedures will greatly reduce the likelihood of this happening again. Should anyone have questions or additional concerns, please call me directly. Steve Hospodar Principal Hamilton School
ZorbaGT September 24, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Parnell.....time for bottle and diaper change!....LOL!
ex principal September 25, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Mr. Parnell, maybe your neighbors in Hamilton are worthy of your time apologizing for your repeated attempts to publicly malign their school. Maybe you can explain to all of them, those who put so much effort into making it the successful program that it is today. As you say, coming from a long line of teachers, I'm wondering if any of your relatives ever had a class problem with bullying or any other potential safety issues large groups of children have. I wonder if you would have the "courage" to publicly disparage them? glass houses Mr Parnell......on top of your ivory tower
ex principal September 25, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Mr. Parnell, maybe your neighbors in Hamilton are worthy of your time apologizing for your repeated attempts to publicly malign their school. Maybe you can explain to all of them, those who put so much effort into making it the successful program that it is today. As you say, coming from a long line of teachers, I'm wondering if any of your relatives ever had a class problem with bullying or any other potential safety issues large groups of children have. I wonder if you would have the "courage" to publicly disparage them? glass houses Mr Parnell......on top of your ivory tower

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