Details about a new charter school in Novato have been distributed by the Novato Unified School District, which is reviewing an application from the nonprofit group vying for a new educational choice for local families.
The least surprising fact to either side of the controversial issue is that most of the people interested in the proposed North Bay Academy are from Rancho Elementary School.
In early November, the district will call a public hearing to review the North Bay Education Foundation's petition for a school that would follow the Core Knowledge system of teaching, according to an NUSD release sent out Monday. The possible location of the school is undetermined at this point; it is not to be confused with the existing Novato Charter School in Hamilton, which uses Waldorf-based teaching methods.
The foundation's first go-round on the petition filing was rejected and the district requested more information, but NBEF quickly complied and the district approved the revised document Oct. 19.
Most of the kids and families who signed a non-binding petition of interest in the new school are tied to Rancho, which, like the existing Novato Charter School, does not have traditional neighborhood boundaries from which to draw its student body. Most people involved in the North Bay Educational Foundation are affiliated with Rancho, which has the highest grades of any elementary school in Marin County.
Rancho, which has a lottery system to determine its enrollment each year, is accepting more children from its neighborhood without going through the lottery process, and the district is studying new boundary policies for all of its schools. Many in the community have rallied to have Rancho turned into a neighborhood school and do away with the lottery system since the state says every public school must teach the same curriculum. On the flip side, many have rallied to defend Rancho's setup and say nothing could be more fair than a lottery system.
Out of 256 kids/families already enrolled in NUSD schools who expressed interest in the proposed charter school, 181 were affiliated with Rancho according to numbers released Monday. Aside from Rancho, the next most were 18 from Hamilton Meadow Park, 14 from Pleasant Valley, 14 from Olive, 11 from Loma Verde, eight from San Ramon, six from Lu Sutton and four from Lynwood. Interest was evenly spread throughout the grades except for a big drop among kindergarteners.
There were 71 Novato kids/families not affiliated with NUSD schools who expressed interest in registering for the North Bay Academy. Of those, 53 of those were kindergarteners. Fifteen of the non-NUSD names were from kids/families now attending Good Shepherd Lutheran School.
All but eight of the 365 kids/families who declared an interest in the new charter school were from Novato. Thirty-seven were petitioners with students currently in seventh or eighth grades.
The district chose not to release personal information about those who signed the petition. "However, if a Public Records Act request is received, only the petitioner signature and name will be released," the district said.
Documentation on the charter school bid can be found on the district's website; look for the words "proposed charter school" on the left side of the main page.
NUSD said anyone can send in comments about the proposed charter school to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the public hearing will be available as soon as a date has been established, the district said.