The Santa Barbara school board on Tuesday night will consider the fate of Cesar Chavez Charter School, which is under threat of closure because of low test scores.

With a high turnout expected, the 7 p.m. meeting will be held in the auditorium of Santa Barbara High School, 700 E. Anapamu St.

The issue in question is whether the school board should renew the recently expired five-year charter of the Eastside school, where students spend half of their time learning in English and the other half learning in Spanish.

Like all charter schools, Cesar Chavez, at 1102 East Yanonali St., runs on public money but enjoys near-complete local control, enlisting its own parent-dominated governance council to make major decisions. Every five years, it must go to the Santa Barbara Board of Education for charter renewal. The school’s charter officially lapsed last month.

District administrators have recommended that the board not renew the charter, arguing that the school’s test scores are abysmally low — so much so that the school doesn’t meet state requirements for renewal. Parents and staff at the school have disagreed with that assessment, pointing to their own version of the data, which they say shows the school’s students to be performing at least on par with others in the district.

Superintendent Brian Sarvis this week put forth a proposal to keep the school running as a dual-immersion program, but under tighter control by the district.

For instance, it would strip the governing council of its authority over the school’s instructional program, demoting it to an advisory body.

Also, the proposed resolution does not call for charter renewal. Rather, it extends the length of the current charter for the remainder of the school year. Then, it calls for the school to propose a new charter altogether, with help from district consultants.

Cesar Chavez opened in 2000 partly in response to how the Santa Barbara School District — and later, the state of California — abolished bilingual education in regular public schools.

It enrolls 256 students, two-thirds of whom are considered English learners.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at

— Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at