A number of Bay Area Technology School families came to tonight’s school board meeting. They planned to urge the district to keep the charter school open, but they didn’t need to.
A decision was announced at the beginning of the meeting, before some of them had even arrived.
Instead of denying BayTech’s five-year charter renewal — as her staff had originally recommended — Oakland’s schools chief Kimberly Statham announced she would extend its existing charter agreement for 45 days.
On Aug. 8, the school will propose a one-year charter renewal, which is expected to be approved. Next summer, it will ask to stay open for five more years. The school plans to eventually expand through the 12th grade.
By next year, Statham reasoned, more testing data will be available. The school opened in the fall of 2004, meaning that district staff had only two years of data — test results from 2005 and 2006 — with which to establish trends. This year’s test scores don’t come out until August or September.
It wasn’t clear whether community pressure or a change-of-heart prompted the change. Maybe it was the meeting with the school’s lawyer earlier in the day.
Whatever the reason, parents and kids celebrated the small victory in the lobby of the district office. The unexpected recommendation came to light after school had let out for the summer, so the phone trees have been active ever since, said Kimberly Wilson, a former San Leandro school board member who pulled her son out of a public middle school in that district to attend BayTech.
They told me about the school’s caring teachers, unique course offerings, tech clubs and tight-knit group of families. Darius Thompson, 14, said the “academic standards” were rigorous, and that his teachers were excellent.
“The facilities could be improved on,” he said. “But school ain’t about the facilities. It’s about the learning environment.”