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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 1:51 pm | A Few Clouds 57º


Board Continues Discussion of Santa Barbara Charter School Renewal

The Santa Barbara Unified School District and Santa Barbara Charter School haven’t collaborated on the school’s charter renewal so far, despite the fact that each side says it wants to work together on the process.

The 20-year-old school has to prove it meets state criteria to stay open, and district staff think there are big holes in the petition. School leaders said they want to work with the district to address any concerns and make the petition good enough to approve without conditions.

Superintendent Dave Cash said the district intends to meet with the school a lot over the next three weeks.

The district staff recommends that the Board of Education conditionally approve the charter based on these concerns.

Emilio Handall, assistant superintendent of elementary education, said the district should have the school create a Professional Learning Plan, a Common Core Standards Transition Plan, an educational program plan, financial projections, instructional plans for high-achieving, low-achieving and English Learner students, and plans to reflect the district’s population in terms of racial and ethnic balance within five years.

Dozens of parents came to Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting, as they did for the Oct. 8 meeting, to praise the school and ask for a charter renewal.

The board can renew, renew with conditions or not renew the charter, and the burden to prove that the school meets all criteria falls on the petitioner, Handall said.

Many parents told the board how well their children were doing, but the board also has to consider students who aren’t doing well, board member Kate Parker said. The previous charter renewal in 2008 was granted 3-1, with former board member Bob Noel bringing up many of the same concerns that are being aired now, Parker said. She was on the board at the time but wasn’t present for the vote.

There seems to be an impression that the board doesn’t want to renew the charter, but it’s not true, according to board member Ed Heron.

“Twenty years of experience to me is very worthy,” he said.

The school felt threatened by the recommendations and is fearful that if conditions aren’t met, the charter would be revoked, said David Weisman, Santa Barbara Charter’s director of operations. He said they want to work with the district and revise the petition if necessary to avoid having conditions.

Santa Barbara Charter brought an attorney on board for the process — Jennifer McQuarrie, who also represented Cesar Chavez Charter School in Santa Barbara.

She has never heard of a school with an Academic Performance Index above 800, the state goal, have its educational plan questioned, she said.

The district wants the school to increase its Latino student population by 10 percent per year for the next five years, but with a lottery system the school can’t guarantee that, though it can guarantee more outreach efforts, she said.

Cash said it was always the district’s intent to work with the school starting now, but seemed defensive when Weisman said the school doesn’t want conditions.

“That doesn’t feel like collaboration to me,” he said.

Board president Monique Limon saw the conditions as a good thing, and a chance for the school to develop plans for its future.

“At the end of the day, what’s most important to me is what’s best for the student,” she said.

The board is scheduled to make a final decision at the Nov. 12 meeting.

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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