Board members, who have the ultimate say on whether to renew the charter, expressed serious concerns when the charter renewal petition first came before them in October. Parents and teachers praised the school’s smaller classes and supportive environment, but board membres said they were concerned about low test scores and a lack of diversity.
On Tuesday night, the board unanimously approved the charter petition on the recommendation of assistant superintendent of elementary education Emilio Handall. The renewal does include conditions — including following the plans and working toward goals identified in the document — but the school is comfortable with them, school director of operations David Weisman said.
In late October, Handall concluded that the school’s education program “is not likely to demonstrate future success.” Since then, he and other district officials have been working with the school to rewrite the charter petition and include much more detail.
The first proposal submitted in October was 89 pages. The revised version, which was approved Tuesday, was 562 pages.
Handall and board members commended the school’s teachers and staff for working so hard on the document and outlining the school’s future plans.
It’s still a conditional approval, requiring the school to improve the academic performance of all student subgroups; meet the new diversity goals or explain why it hasn’t/couldn’t; meet self-imposed goals outlined in the Local Control Accountability Plan; implement its plan to identify and monitor low-achieving students; and implement its English learner plan and report back to the Board of Education on its progress.
The conditions aren’t designed to sanction the school, but the board wants to see good-faith efforts to move in the right direction, according to board member Monique Limon.
“We’re not here to torpedo the school in any way, shape or form — we want it to be a good school,” board member Ed Heron said.
Newly appointed board president Kate Parker complimented the school on its “tremendous amount of work” put into the revised charter, adding that it will be a document the school and district can use as a reference for years.
Teachers and families cheered and clapped with the unanimous support of the charter, and Weisman high-fived people as he headed out the back door of the packed board room and adjoining conference room.
“We’re very happy,” he said.
He said it’s a “perfect storm” for California education right now with new funding, new standards and new assessments, and the charter petition happened to come along at the same time.
Collaborating with the district between board meetings was key to the charter’s success, he noted.
The school is located on the Goleta Valley Junior High School campus at 6100 Stow Canyon Road in Goleta and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.