Tuesday, May 31 , 2016, 4:45 am | Fog/Mist 57º

Up for Renewal, Santa Barbara Charter School Faces Questions About Student Achievement

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Santa Barbara Charter School is up for its charter renewal in October, but district trustees have expressed concerns about the achievement scores and curriculum model for the school.

A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8 with the charter proposal, school administrators and the Circle of Trustees that govern the 20-year-old charter school.

Ultimately, the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Education will decide whether to approve the charter again.

The renewal process itself is strictly outlined by the state Education Code, with 16 specific items to consider, according to Santa Barbara Unified Superintendent Dave Cash.

“Our analysis is, did they meet it or did they not?” he said.

The K-8 school is housed at Goleta Valley Junior High School’s campus, and has a combination of classroom-based and home-based programs, including independent study.

It has a cap of 285 students, which it often has enrolled, according to the charter proposal.

Many people love the school, but its students have performed lower historically than other schools in the district and other progressive schools, board member Kate Parker said this week.

“It’s a real red flag to me,” Parker said.

At a recent meeting, the board briefly discussed the charter proposal and asked for some more information to be included before the public hearing.

Parker requested more detail about the textbooks and curriculum the school uses, and pointed out that every award mentioned in the report as “evidence that they’re making progress” was before 2008.

There’s also no discussion about how the Common Core State Standards would be implemented, or at least how students would be prepared to meet those standards when they go to high school.

“I expect any application for renewal to have that included,” Parker said. 

Board president Monique Limon asked for enrollment, parent-satisfaction survey answers and student demographics information for the school. 

Santa Barbara Charter School has a history of not reflecting demographic data of the Santa Barbara Unified School District or the Goleta Union School District, and there haven’t been discussions to address that, Parker said.

Santa Barbara Charter is one of three charter elementary schools overseen by Santa Barbara Unified: Peabody Charter School has been a charter school since 1993 and serves students from preschool to sixth grade; and Adelante Charter School, formerly Cesar Chavez, formed in 2010. 

Adelante was created after its predecessor raised major concerns about curriculum and assessment.

The school overhauled its leadership and charter, and the Board of Education approved the new plan with 52 specific conditions before giving the final OK in July 2010. It’s a K-6 dual-immersion language school, the only one in the district.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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