Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence sent out an e-mail to parents on Friday with Questions and Answers regarding charter schools.
Since this hasn’t yet been posted on the district’s website, I’m posting it below.
Some Clayton Valley High School teachers are proposing to convert that school to a charter in fall 2012. In addition, the Flex Academy charter approved by the County Board of Education is taking applications and hasn’t yet decided whether to open in fall 2011 or 2012. It has turned down the district’s offer to locate at Glenbrook Middle School, after that campus closes in June.
Here is the superintendent’s message:
“Where Kids Come First
May 20, 2011
CHARTER SCHOOL INFORMATION
Over the past weeks, community members have raised questions about charter schools. Below, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions and the answers to them.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DEPENDENT CHARTER?
Dependent charters are schools that have been converted from an existing public school in the district to a charter school in its entirety. Though rare, districts have opened new small high schools or programs as dependent charters.
The authorizing board is legally responsible for the budget development, special education services, governance, debts, and other liabilities of the dependent charter.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF AN INDEPENDENT CHARTER?
Independent charters are organized by 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and are independent legal entities with their own governing board.
These charters are responsible for securing their own facility but can file a Proposition 39 request to use a district facility at below market rates.
Independent charters are responsible for their own insurance, budget, hiring, employment rights, and special education services.
WHAT WOULD THE FISCAL IMPACT BE ON OTHER DISTRICT SCHOOLS IF CLAYTON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL (CVHS) CONVERTS TO A CHARTER?
If any District high school converts to a charter, the district would have to pass along additional funding to that school which would then have to be cut from elsewhere in the district. In this case, if CVHS converts to a charter, the district will have to provide the school an additional $1.651 million beyond the current revenue being generated by CVHS.
This is due to the following State funding formula for conversion charter schools:
– The State uses the amount that unified districts receive per student (currently $4,876.08*) then subtracts the charter school funding per student amount at the high school rate (currently $5,808.00*). This $931.92 per student difference must be made up by the district budget. Therefore, with CVHS’ current enrollment a conversion to a charter would create a reduction to the district budget of $1.651 million.
This number assumes that the governor’s tax extensions fail to make it onto the ballot. The amount will be slightly higher if the Governor’s budget is approved.
1. Should CVHS elect to convert to a charter, the district must develop a plan for an additional $1.651 million cut to the remainder of the district. Therefore, the superintendent will invite all district stakeholders to meet to address these cuts.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE CVHS CHARTER PETITION?
This is not a district-lead process. The details of the charter and timetable are up to the individuals developing the CVHS charter proposal.
Should the district receive a charter proposal, it has 30 days to hold a general public hearing on the proposal. The district also has 60 days from the date of receipt of the petition to grant or deny the charter petition.”
[END SUPERINTENDENT MESSAGE]
This information varies slightly from what the consultants said at last Monday’s meeting with teachers at Clayton Valley High School. They said Clayton Valley would get its revenues directly from the state (not from the district). They agreed that the state would fund the school at the high school rate, instead of the unified rate.
However, they said this would cost the state more money and suggested that state Legislators might eventually change this rule, when they realize it is costing the state more. If the money is coming out of the district’s budget, then the state wouldn’t be paying more. This is something I’ll need to research.
Also, at the Clayton Valley High meeting, many people acknowledged that the district and charter organizers have a contentious relationship right now. Yet, if the district approves the charter, it could provide services and a certain amount of oversight.
Because of this, the consultants advised organizers to try to work collaboratively with the district as much as possible. Some teachers suggested it might be better for the charter if the district denies its petition, so it could then possibly be approved by the County Board of Education, which does’t harbor any ill will against the organizers.
The charter consultants said they have never heard of a district approving a charter out of “spite” (meaning the district board would approve the charter just so it could make things more difficult for it).
Do you think the Mt. Diablo district and Clayton Valley High School charter organizers can work collaboratively to put kids first, according to the district’s motto?